Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants

The Challenge: Expand equitable access to career and business opportunities in climate-critical fields

A robust, well-trained, and inclusive workforce is vital to achieving and sustaining the Commonwealth’s climate goals. Organizations that deliver career awareness, training, or business support programs can ensure that Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), fossil fuel workers, and individuals from Environmental Justice (EJ) Neighborhoods, low-income communities, or federally recognized or state-acknowledged tribes benefit from equitable access to climate-critical workforce opportunities.  However, delivering such programs requires planning and resources that these organizations may not have.

About Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants

Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants provide up to $50,000 for up to 12 months for planning needed to develop a program plan ready for implementation or up to $150,000 for up to two years for capacity building (expanding staff, solidifying essential partnerships, developing content and curriculum design, etc.) to start or expand a clean energy equity workforce program. In addition to direct funding, planning and capacity grantees receive technical assistance support from MassCEC to facilitate targeted networking, expanded partnerships, stronger program design, and effective practices for achieving outcomes. 

Award Potential
$50,000 for Planning; $150,000 for Capacity
Application Deadline
Rolling, through June 30, 2023
Questions? Contact

Funding Schedule

Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants are available on a rolling basis until June 30, 2023. While responses will be accepted until the June 30 deadline, applications submitted by the priority reading dates will be read and reviewed on a more expedited timeline. Applications will be reviewed until funding is expended.

Process Step


RFP Release

March 29, 2023

Questions Due to MassCEC via workforce@masscec.com


Questions with Answers Posted to MassCEC Website


Pre-Application Webinar

April 18 at 12 noon

Pre-Application Office Hours

See dates and times

Applications Due

Accepted on a rolling basis until 11:59 pm on June 30, 2023

Priority Review Dates for MassCEC

Received by April 26: reviewed by wk of May 1;
Received by May 31: reviewed by wk of June 1 

Interviews of Applicants (as needed)


Notification of Award

Approximately 6-8 weeks after submission

Who's Eligible

Single organizations or partnerships are eligible to apply. If multiple parties are applying jointly, one party should take on the role of Lead Applicant.

The following entities are eligible to serve as a Lead Applicant:

  • Community-based organizations, such as community action partnerships, environmental justice organizations, neighborhood revitalization organizations, advocacy groups, affordable housing providers or developers, and non-profits
  • Post-secondary educational institutions, K-12 school districts, comprehensive and vocational high schools, middle schools, and vocational schools offering a Career Technical Initiative evening training program
  • For-profit entities such as for-profit training companies, trade associations, unions, or other coalitions of businesses and clean energy businesses
  • Federally Recognized and State-Acknowledged Tribes
  • Workforce development organizations, either non-profit or for-profit
  • Massachusetts Workforce Investment Boards and Career Centers/MassHire Organizations
Applicants previously funded by MassCEC may apply so long as the proposed work is sufficiently distinct and does not lead to the same work being funded.
Applicants that have already received equity workforce planning grants may apply for a capacity grant  to execute preliminary work related to future implementations.


Application Process

To apply:

  1. Review the Equity Workforce Training Planning and Capacity Grant Request For Proposals (RFP).
  2. Review all RFP forms and attachments.
  3. Attend MassCEC informational webinars and/or use other informational resources offered.
  4. Contact MassCEC with questions or to discuss your ideas via at workforce@masscec.com.
  5. Complete all RFP forms and attachments according to instructions.
  6. Submit all completed RFP forms and attachments by email to workforce@masscec.com by 11:59 pm on June 30, 2023, with "Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grant Application" in the subject line.

For full Program details, please refer to the RFP.

Send completed application to workforce@masscec.com 

Pre-Application Office Hours

Drop-in office hours to discuss your proposals and network with potential applicants:

April 20, 2023 at 5:30 pm - Join Meeting

April 25, 2023 at 12 noon - Join Meeting

May 2, 2023 at 12 noon - Join Meeting

May 9, 2023 at 12 noon - Join Meeting

May 17, 2023 at 12 noon - Join Meeting

May 25, 2023 at 5:30 pm - Join Meeting

May 30, 2023 at 12 noon - Join Meeting

Pre-Application Webinar

On April 18, 2023, MassCEC held a webinar about the Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants RFP, including eligibility, budget, and the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs were last updated on May 23, 2023.

Questions are accepted and answers will be posted on a rolling basis. Submit questions to workforce@masscec.com.

1. Should my organization apply for a Planning Grant or a Capacity Grant?

Planning grants are intended for those applicants that need to solidify the elements of the program design prior to implementation, with the overall goal being to design a program plan ready for implementation and potentially ready for submission to a funding solicitation at MassCEC or elsewhere. For example, a planning grantee may plan on developing an accelerator program that will help MWBE contractors who are aspiring energy efficiency and renewable energy business owners training individuals to enter the building retrofit space but may need time to identify partners for recruitment and professional services, clarify the curricular resources, and map out the implementation schedule. 

Capacity grants are intended for those applicants ready to implement but that need to build up in-house capabilities prior to launch or for those applicants that do not need full implementation funds to achieve success with the proposed program. For example, a post-secondary institution has an existing HVAC training program, but to add heat pump training, further curriculum needs to be developed and some extra training-specific equipment needs to be obtained; this is not a wholescale new program or major expansion of an existing program but is instead a beneficial incremental expansion achievable with capacity funding.

2. Can a capacity grant be used to procure space to run training?

Funds cannot be used to lease or purchase venue space or equipment for general operating purposes. However, funds can be used to lease or purchase venue space or equipment specifically designated for direct programmatic use. For example, paying for an organization’s regular rent is not acceptable. However, paying the cost of an agreement with a building trades training organization to use their lab space to train participants may be acceptable.

3. If our organization has received prior funding from MassCEC, are we eligible to apply to this opportunity?

Yes, applicants may apply for additional funds from MassCEC, so long as the proposed project is separate and distinct from the projects funded via prior support. In addition, grantees that previously received an equity workforce planning grant may apply for a capacity grant to execute preliminary work related to future implementation.

4. Can we use the funds to hire a consultant?

Applicants can use these funds to hire a consultant for targeted tasks such as identifying and approaching relevant employers about their hiring needs, researching available training curricula, etc. However, MassCEC primarily intends for funding to build grantee capacity in-house, so this funding is not intended to be used exclusively to hire outside consultants. In addition, this funding can not be used to pay for costs associated with preparing this proposal or activities that occurred before or following the term of the grant.

5. Are for-profit businesses eligible for these funds?

Yes, for-profit entities such as for-profit training companies, trade associations, unions, or other coalitions of businesses and clean energy businesses are eligible to apply for the Planning and Capacity Grants as lead applicants. In addition, for-profit entities are also eligible to receive funds as partners of another Lead Applicant with detailed information on their role listed on the budget during the Planning/Capacity grant process.

6. What level of detail is needed for the budget? Do we need verified cost estimates from vendors?

The budget requires detailed explanations of the staff/subcontractor roles and the usage of the programmatic expenses. If possible, verified cost estimates from vendors should be submitted for the budget to ensure funding can sustain your program if you receive the award.

7. Does computer hardware/software fall under “equipment” as far as eligibility is concerned?

Computer hardware/software are eligible uses of funding. However, budget submissions with a majority request for hardware/software will be viewed as less favorable by the review committee. MassCEC is anticipating releasing funding dedicated to equipment/software expenses for workforce development programs.

8. Should partnerships already be fully established before applying for a Planning/Capacity Grant?

Applicants can apply for the planning/capacity grants with or without fully established partnerships before applying. If you are applying without fully established partnerships, it will be viewed more favorably if the proposal includes details on the specific partnerships you are trying to form to develop or expand your workforce development program. For example, your proposal can include information that you are seeking to form partnerships with CBOs to develop a comprehensive referral system for participants’ support services.

9. Are low-income communities included in the target population?

Yes, low-income communities are considered underrepresented communities in the clean energy workforce.

10. When will the Planning and Capacity Grants awardees be notified? Will you post the grantees as you award them?

Applicants will be notified if awards are given approximately 6-8 weeks after the priority review dates listed in the Funding Schedule. The publication of the awardees and their projects will depend on the press release announcement plans set by EEA and the Governor’s office.

11. Is it possible to select more than one strand described in the Planning/Capacity grant when applying for the grant?

Yes, applicants can apply for more than one strand described in the Planning and Capacity Grants RFP. The application responses will need to clearly reflect the proposed program strand(s).

12. Will writing quality and style be assessed in the overall scoring of the application?

Writing quality and style will not be an indicator of the overall score of your application. However, applications responses that clearly and accurately describe the Plan/Capacity building concept and meet the selection criteria will be scored more favorably by the review committee. Please refer to pages 14-15 of the RFP document for the Selection Criteria used for evaluation.

13. Will there be an opportunity to get feedback on the grant application?

Applicants will have the opportunity to receive feedback from MassCEC upon notification of the award results, whether or not an award is given to the applicant.

Other Resources

MassCEC will look favorably on applications that propose data-driven approaches and leverage pre-existing resources from the robust workforce development and clean energy sectors in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Applicants are advised to use the following and additional resources to inform their applications:

Job Training & Workforce Development

Networking icon


MassCEC  is compiling a list of potential applicants interested in networking and partnerships for the open Workforce Equity grants. View the list here.

Sign up to the partnership list by sending your contact name, contact info, type of organization, and focus sector to workforce@masscec.com.

Recent Planning Grant Projects

Equity Workforce Planning Grant Projects
Developing career pathways for multilingual individuals from EJ neighborhoods to become energy auditors, these pathways involve placement in customer-facing roles at Mass Save programs to give participants the resources and time needed to train to become energy auditors.
Expanding existing hybrid and EV training programs to recruit and train individuals working in the fossil fuel industry from EJ Neighborhoods across the state to work in and service those communities.
Exploring pathways for formerly incarcerated citizens in Boston to receive training and support needed to enter high-performance building retrofits sector, exploring partnerships and solutions that reduce the barriers faced by those with CORI issues.
Exploring career pathways with employer partners for formerly incarcerated citizens to enter the high-performance building retrofits sector, with emphasis on accommodating CORIs.
Developing a co-op model with employer partners throughout Franklin and Hampshire Counties to train workers in fossil fuel industries and individuals in EJ neighborhoods to transition to clean energy job alternatives in the high-performance retrofits sector.
Exploring training a wide range of people of color, workers in the fossil fuel industry, and youth from Chelsea and East Boston to enter the clean energy sector locally in careers related to solar energy and microgrids.
Developing a customized multi-year training program to train residents of Lawrence and other Merrimack Valley EJ Neighborhoods to enter careers in the high-performance retrofits sector.
Developing and deploying a Massachusetts Green Buildings Accelerator Plan that can be deployed across EJ Neighborhoods statewide, providing residents with career navigation to better understand career pathways, access foundational training, and enter curated workforce and educational pathways.
Exploring the expansion of LISC’s existing weatherization training program, Bridges to Green jobs, which provides training for participants from EJ Neighborhoods to become weatherization technicians. Also exploring the addition of an entry-level heat pump tech training.
Researching the components of an incumbent worker training program that meet the training needs of black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) for new entrants and established workers with a focus on occupations in HVAC and building electrification.
Developing a regional equitable workforce training plan and training programs leading to jobs in the offshore wind industry supply chain and other parts of the blue economy.
Exploring providing early exposure to clean energy jobs at Hyde Park and Mattapan-based high schools; delivering specialization workshops at local technical schools, colleges, and neighborhood associations; and establishing placement pathways.
Connecting the most underserved individuals in New Bedford and neighboring EJ communities that may be missed by traditional workforce approaches by addressing their skills gaps to prepare them to work in the growing Offshore Wind Industry.
Developing a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) program for people of color and EJ neighborhoods.
Developing the SBN Workforce Diversity Program that will support diversifying the solar industry with a focus on EJ neighborhoods. SBN will focus on occupations in project development, sales and marketing, operations, and maintenance.
Exploring the expansion and upskilling of the Rising Stars trades program hosted at Madison Park Vocational Technical School to include high-performance retrofit training and placement pathways.
MWBE Support Planning Grant Projects
Expanding their Electric Vehicle (EV) Kickstarter program to areas outside of Boston, helping MWBEs identify business opportunities in EV space as retailers, owner-operators, installers, and maintenance providers.
Providing educational materials, professional development support, and back-office services necessary for early MWBEs to thrive in the climate-critical building sector.
Expanding Compost Co-operative employee ownership to spin-off business model targeting BIPOC/female returning citizens as a template for other women returning from prison; exploring connecting with other state programs to allow more formerly incarcerated women to use and participate in this business model. 
Exploring how to provide MWBEs with access to the NESEA Green Building community through the expansion of their BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines, a business development program which operates as a peer coaching network with professional facilitation. 
SRGE, the Construction Incubator
Supporting the expansion of larger BIPOC construction, electrical, and mechanical contractors through the Construction Incubator program for EV charging station installation, high-performing mechanical systems, and energy retrofit building projects.

Additional Funding Opportunities