Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants

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

The Massachusetts clean energy workforce will need to grow by 38%, or more than 38,000 workers by 2030 to meet the state’s climate goals. Many of these jobs will be well-paying, with median wages of over $36 per hour, in 2023 dollars. 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, 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, up to $150,000 for up to 3 years for additional participant support services for equity-focused workforce programs, or up to $250,000 for up to 2 years to provide professional development to clean energy energy employers to increase equitable and inclusive hiring practices.

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.

Applicants may apply for Planning or Capacity Grants for programming that falls within one of the following scopes:
Scope 1: Planning or Capacity Project Leading to Implementation or Pilot
Scope 2: Additional Participant Support Services for Equity-Focused Workforce Implementation Projects
Scope 3: Professional Development for Clean Energy Employers to Increase Equitable and Inclusive Hiring Practices

Applicants applying to Scopes 1 or 2 shall focus programming on one or more of the following categories:
Strand A: Career Pathway Training Leading to Employment in Climate-Critical Priority Occupations
Strand B: Clean Energy Career Awareness, Career Exploration, and Preparedness 
Strand C: Business Support Services Leading to the creation or expansion of MWBEs in Climate-Critical Fields

Award Potential

$50,000 for Planning; $150,000 for Capacity; $150,00 for Additional Support Services; $250,000 for Professional Development

Application Deadline

Not currently accepting applications

Questions? Contact

Funding Schedule

Applications for the Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants are accepted on a rolling basis. Applications submitted by the listed priority review dates will be reviewed on a more expedited timeline.

Process Step


RFP Release

September 5, 2023

Questions Due to MassCEC via rfpworkforce@masscec.com


Questions with Answers Posted to MassCEC Website


Pre-Application Webinar

April 17, 2024 at 1 PM

Pre-Application Office Hours

See dates and times

Applications Due

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through 11:59 pm on May 20, 2024

Priority Review Dates for MassCEC

Applications received by:

  • October 16th to be reviewed the week of October 23rd
  • February 5th to be reviewed the week of February 12th

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 rfpworkforce@masscec.com.
  5. Complete all RFP forms and attachments according to instructions.
  6. Submit all completed RFP forms and attachments by email to rfpworkforce@masscec.com upon completion and before 11:59 pm on May 20, 2024, with “Equity Workforce Planning/Capacity Grant Application” in the subject line.

For full Program details, please refer to the RFP.

Please note that the RFP and Application Form has been revised as of April 1, 2024.

Send completed application to rfpworkforce@masscec.com 

Pre-Application Office Hours

MassCEC hosts a series of office hours (one-hour blocks) to answer questions about all open Workforce Development grant opportunities. Register below to receive a meeting invitation. Join anytime during the one-hour block!

Pre-Application Webinar

On April 17, 2024, MassCEC hosted a pre-application webinar for the Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants. Watch the webinar recording to learn more about application scopes, eligibility, budget, and application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs were last updated on May 14, 2024.

Questions are accepted and answers will be posted on a rolling basis. Submit questions to rfpworkforce@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. Should my organization apply for the maximum Planning Grant amount of $50,000?

Based on research and prior experience during previous rounds of MassCEC Planning Grants, MassCEC intends to award $30,000 or less for the majority of Planning Grants selected for an award but may entertain awarding up to $50,000 to applications requesting an amount higher than $30,000 and providing sufficient and compelling reasons for the increased funding need. Substantiation of this additional need should be reflected throughout the application form and in the detailed budget submitted on the MassCEC budget template. Examples of reasonable additional need include an ambitious plan to develop partnerships with numerous final MOUs across a large region and a plan to design a completely new curriculum through a partner and CBO-engaged planning process.

3. 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 and must be submitted using the MassCEC budget template. Budgets that do not provide rates per unit (e.g., fee per hour for subcontractors, stipend per participant, etc.) and instead only list lump sums against each line-item may be scored less favorably or be considered incomplete. 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. Separate detailed budgets submitted using the MassCEC template must be submitted for any vendor or subcontractor receiving thirty (30) percent or more of the proposed program budget. MassCEC may require awardees to substantiate that no conflict of interest exists between the applicant and proposed vendors or subcontractors and provide information about the vendor selection process.

4. 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.

5. 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).

6. If awarded, do grants have to continue during the full six months for planning or two years for capacity, or can the applicant complete work and apply for implementation funds sooner?

The term lengths listed in the solicitation document are maximum term limits for a grant agreement. If work can be completed, with all deliverables reasonably fulfilled, in a more expedited timeline, that is acceptable and actually may be encouraged to allow for a grantee to apply for needed implementation funding timely in sync with those solicitations.

7. 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. A separate detailed budget for the consultant must be submitted in the application packet using a copy of the MassCEC budget template if the consultant will be receiving thirty (30) percent or more of the proposed program budget. MassCEC may require awardees to substantiate that no conflict of interest exists between the applicant and proposed subcontractor and provide information about the consultant selection process.

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 with a suggested list of target partner organizations.

9. 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.

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

Computer hardware/software are eligible uses of funding so long as those items are primarily used for programmatic purposes. 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.

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

Yes, low-income communities are considered as a targeted population in this solicitation.

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

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

13. 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.

14. 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. Applications with missing answers or incomplete answers may be viewed as incomplete and not considered during scoring. Please refer to the RFP document for the Selection Criteria used for evaluation.

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

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

16. What does Technical Assistance include?

Each grantee will be assigned to a technical assistance (TA) provider who will advise them in the planning or capacity-building process to ensure that the deliverables and outcomes meet or exceed the expectations of the grant. Individual technical assistance sessions will be on an ongoing and as-needed basis as agreed upon between the TA provide and grantee. Grantees must also participate in small cohort sessions by participating in webinars to promote networking, share best practices, and strengthen their workforce development program design.  

17. In the budget form, should all estimated program costs be included if it the total cost outweighs the maximum amount of the grant?

If other funding sources are being used to cover the program costs, use the Matching column in the budget form to indicate which line items are being covered by other funding sources. 

18. If we don't receive funding this round, can we resubmit for the next round of applications?

Yes, MassCEC will provide written feedback to applicants who did not receive funding for the current round. Applicants are encouraged to revise their proposals and resubmit by the final deadline.

19. If we are using another entity to assist in wraparound support, do we need an MOU or can we list their information on the application without a formal letter of agreement?

We ask that you get a letter of support that shows the other entity is aware of this application. The MOU or LOS should include the responsibilities of that entity as included in the application

20. Can we find an example or format for a letter of support? Does it need to be from the head of the company?

We do not have a specific format for the letter of support. We require letters of support on the company letterhead describing the responsibilities of the organization providing the letter. We prefer a letter signed by a high-level position of the organization as possible. 

21. For the budget, we have a few organizations as partners. Would the budget be separate from them or include the partners in one budget?

The lead applicant will submit the budget and add partners in a subcontractor line. If the partner is receiving $50,000 or more from the requested amount, the lead applicant will need to submit an additional budget that includes the allocated amount for each line item for the given amount.

22. If we have previously received funding from MassCEC, do we have to target a different geographic area?

MassCEC reviews applications based on multiple factors, including geographic area. If you have received funding from the same grant, the application must be separate and distinct from the funded project. Diversifying the target geographic area will be viewed as distinct and more competitive.

23. Are firm placement spots from employers required for the MOUs?

MOUs from employers will need to show commitment to working with participants throughout the training program. At the minimum, a MOU from an employer should show commitment to interview participants after training completion.

24. Can I submit letters of support after the deadline?

In the application, you can list letters of support from organizations that are in progress. The letters of support can be broad, and we understand that you might not have the MOUs and LOS as you are submitting.

25. 19. Is there a place where we can include our past experiences in regions outside of Massachusetts?

Yes, you can include prior applicable experience in other locations. You may submit letters of support from organizations outside of Massachusetts to substantiate your prior experience, but they are not required.

26. This grant would be our first time working in Massachusetts, is there a timeframe for needing a certificate of good standing before applying?

We recommend that you acquire a Certificate of Good Standing by the time you submit an application. If awarded, the Certificate of Good Standing is required to contract with MassCEC.

27. Is the fringe rare at 22% a fixed rate, or can we come up with our own and justify it?

You can adjust it to your organizations fringe rate and then provide an explanation in the narrative section.

28. Is there a required indirect rate? Is there a rate set by MassCEC?

MassCEC recommends using the indirect rate. However, applicants are allowed to submit a rate different than the federal de minimis if they provide sufficient documentation and explanation.

29. Can our partners be based outside of Massachusetts?

Applicants can partner with organizations outside of Massachusetts as long as the program is impacting target populations in Massachusetts as described in the RFP.

30. Do we need to identify whether each of our partners has received MassCEC funding?

Yes, if the partners will be receiving funding from this grant. Please identify if the partners have previously received MassCEC funding in the past 3 years.

31. How does running a pilot program fit into the capacity grant?

A capacity grant allows more time to test your plan, which may inform the full implementation of your program. A pilot program is not a requirement for a capacity grant, but it may be beneficial during the program development stage.

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 rfpworkforce@masscec.com.

Recent Planning and Capacity Grant Projects

Round 1 Grantee
All In Energy

All In Energy is 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.

Round 2 Grantee
Apprentice Learning

Apprentice Learning is developing a multi-year plan to integrate awareness of climate-critical career pathways and real-world learning experiences into its curricula and programming for in-school and out-of-school time activities targeted middle-school youth in Boston’s low-income and environmental justice communities. 

Round 1 Grantee
Automotive Careers Development Center

Automotive Careers Development Center (ACDC) is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Browning the Green Space

Browning the Green Space (BGS) is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation

Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC) is exploring career pathways with employer partners for formerly incarcerated citizens to enter the high-performance building retrofits sector, with emphasis on accommodating CORIs.

Round 1 Grantee
Greenfield Community College

Greenfield Community College is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Greenroots Chelsea

GreenRoots Chelsea is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Groundwork Lawrence Technical School

Groundwork Lawrence Technical School is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Julius Education

Julius Education is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is 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.

Round 2 Grantee
Madison Park Technical Vocational High School

Madison Park Technical Vocational High School is partnering with Career Champions Network to implement recommendations from the school’s Clean Energy Task Force, generate a career exploration initiative for students, and develop a plan for an after-hours adult training program for clean energy sector occupations.  

Round 2 Grantee
Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges

Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC) is conducting a needs assessment and gap analysis on training for entry to mid-level climate critical careers to inform the execution of programs in Massachusetts’ community colleges.  

Round 1 Grantee
Massachusetts Climate Action Network

Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN) is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
MassHire North Shore Workforce Board

MassHire North Shore Workforce Board is 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.

Round 2 Grantee
New England Women in Energy and the Environment

New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) is developing a fellowship program that seeks to train women in various climate critical occupations, matching selected individuals with companies/organizations operating in the clean energy industry, and will establish partnerships with organizations who will assist in diversifying recruitment processes to engage more women of color in the program and provide mentorship and support services throughout the fellowship. 

Round 2 Grantee
Northeast Home Energy Ratings System Alliance

Northeast Home Energy Ratings System Alliance (NEHERS) is hiring a technical director to expand their existing HERS Rater Trainings to include mentorship and training for Rating Field Inspectors (RFIs) and HERS Modelers as an apprenticeship-equivalent pathway into the industry, specifically targeting underrepresented demographics. 

Round 1 Grantee
People Acting in Community Endeavors, Inc

People Acting in Community Endeavors, Inc. (PACE) is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Roads Consulting Group

Roads Consulting Group is creating a plan to design secure business recruitment pathways for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises in low-income and Environmental Justice designated communities to enter the clean energy industry. 

Round 1 Grantee
Roxbury Community College

Roxbury Community College is developing a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) program for people of color and EJ neighborhoods.


Round 2 Grantee
Studio for High-Performance Design and Construction

The Studio for High-Performance Design and Construction (StudioHPDC) will create a plan to train carpentry instructors in the high-performance buildings sector at vocational/technical schools in Environmental Justice Communities. 

Round 1 Grantee
Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts

Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) is 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.

Round 1 Grantee
Transform Power Systems (formerly Nordee Enterprises)

Transform Power Systems (formerly, Nordee Enterprises) is providing individuals in Hyde Park and Mattapan-based high schools exposure to clean energy jobs through specialization workshops at local technical school, colleges and neighborhoods associations.

Round 1 Grantee
Tremco CPG Inc.

Tremco CPG Inc is 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.

Round 2 Grantee
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is developing a building energy system training program to provide training to underrepresented individuals, focusing on energy-efficient HVAC systems.   

Additional Funding Opportunities

EmPower Massachusetts

Funding type
Award Potential

$300,000 (Priority Track Implementation)

$150,000 (Non-Priority Track Implementation)

$50,000 (Innovation & Capacity Building)

Application Deadline

Innovation and Capacity Building: Closed

Implementation: Closed