Request for Proposals: Equity Workforce Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure

The Challenge: Create Opportunities for Underserved Individuals in the Clean Energy Workforce

Those most impacted by climate change are typically excluded from opportunities to obtain employment in the clean energy sector due to systemic barriers and lack of training opportunities that lead to career pathways.  The Massachusetts clean energy workforce needs to grow by 38%, or more than 38,000 workers by 2030 to meet the state’s aggressive decarbonization goals. Many of these jobs will be living-wage jobs, with median wages of over $36 per hour (in 2023 dollars). As gaps in the workforce for climate-critical sectors grow, engaging underrepresented populations will be crucial, not just for equity, but also to ensure that the Commonwealth has the workforce needed to meet clean energy goals. 

About Equity Workforce Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure Grants

MassCEC's Equity Workforce Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure Grants increase access to modern, relevant training equipment and infrastructure. The grants provide up to $1,200,000 across two to three years in direct funding and technical assistance to organizations that can build and scale career pathways leading to climate-critical priority occupations for individuals from Environmental Justice (EJ) neighborhoods or low-income communities, members of Federally recognized and State-acknowledged Tribes, Fossil Fuel Workers, and other underrepresented populations.

Applicants may apply for one or more of the following strands:

  • Strand A: Career Pathway Training Leading to Employment in Climate-Critical Priority Occupations
  • Strand B: Clean Energy Career Awareness, Career Exploration, Career Navigation, and Preparedness
  • Strand C: Equipment and Infrastructure to Support Climate-Critical Training

Successful applicants will propose projects that address barriers faced by these populations, demonstrate a high level of employer engagement and leverage of existing workforce development systems, and lead to high-quality careers in climate-critical occupations.

Status
Open
Award Potential

Career Pathway Training: $1,200,000; Career Awareness: $600,000; Equipment & Infrastructure: $750,000

Application Deadline

Jan 19, 2024 and May 1, 2024

Questions? Contact

Funding Schedule

Equity Workforce Training, Equipment and Infrastructure Grants are awarded on an annual basis. Applicants not currently ready for program implementation should consider the Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants to prepare for the next round of implementation funding.

Round 2 Schedule

Process Step

Timing

RFP Release

November 29, 2023

Questions Due to MassCEC via rfpworkforce@masscec.com

Rolling, through April 5, 2024

Questions with Answers Posted to MassCEC Website

Updated monthly on 2nd Tuesday through April 5, 2024

Pre-Application Webinars

December 12, 2023, 3 pm

March 12, 2024, 1 pm

Pre-Application Office Hours

Detailed below

Proposals Due

January 19, 2024, by 11:59 pm for review during February 2024

May 1, 2024, by 11:59 pm for review during May 2024

Interviews of Applicants (as needed)

TBD

Notification of Award

March 2024, if received by January 19, 2024

June 2024, if received by May 1, 2024

Who's Eligible

Single organizations or partnerships are eligible to apply. Partnerships are strongly encouraged and may be looked upon more favorably to the extent that they can provide a range of expertise and experience to deliver a comprehensive proposal. One party should take on the role of Lead Applicant.

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

  • Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), including CBOs relying on a fiscal agent
  • Community Colleges, Colleges, and Universities
  • Comprehensive and Vocational High Schools, including Vocational Schools offering an after-hours or Career Technical Initiative evening training program
  • For-Profit Entities
  • Workforce Development Organizations
  • MassHire Workforce Investment Boards and Career Centers
Applicants that have received prior funding via the MassCEC Equity Workforce Training Planning Grants and Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise Support Grants are eligible, as long as those applications are separate and distinct efforts from this proposed project.
 
Applicants to Strand C must have received an Equity Workforce award previously OR submit
a Strand A application to the current solicitation.

For full eligibility requirements and other Program details, please refer to the Equity Workforce Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure Grant Request for Proposals (RFP).

Apply

Application Process

This solicitation has three stands, which are described in the RFP above. Strand A and Strand B have common application materials. Strand C has specific application materials, provided below.

Proposals should be emailed to rfpworkforce@masscec.com by 11:59 PM on the deadline date with "Equity Workforce Training Implementation Grant Application" in the subject line.

Application Materials

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 grants. Register below to receive a meeting invite. Join anytime during the one-hour block!

Pre-Application Webinars

On December 12, 2023, MassCEC hosted an informational webinar on the Equity Workforce Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure Grants.

You can also register for a live, pre-application webinar on March 12, 2024 to learn more about the application process and ask questions.  (The same content will be presented as during the December 12 webinar.)

Which Program is Right for Us?

MassCEC has two open solicitations that provide funding and technical assistance to develop and scale workforce training programs for climate-critical occupations: 1) Climate-Critical Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure, and 2) Equity Workforce Training, Equipment and Infrastructure (this page). Both programs support training, the purchase of equipment, and the development of training infrastructure. In both programs, equipment and infrastructure projects will be funded with federal ARPA monies, however the required financial match for these projects differs by program. See which funding opportunity best suits your program goals.

Climate-Critical Workforce Training

Equity Workforce Training

Funding Amount per Award

Up to $800,000

Up to $1.2 million

Deadlines

January 26, 2024

May 1, 2024

January 19, 2024

May 1, 2024

Programmatic Goals

Support Massachusetts residents with career pathway training or incumbent workers with upskilling​

Support individuals from priority populations with career pathway training or exploration

Match Requirement (Equipment and Infrastructure only)

Private entities must provide a 1:1 financial match; public entities must supply a 25% project cost-share.

Matching funds are recommended, but not required.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs were last updated on February 20, 2024.

Questions are accepted on a rolling basis until April 5, 2024. Answers will be posted on the second Tuesday of each month. Submit questions to rfpworkforce@masscec.com.

1. Can an applicant apply to only Strand C: Equipment and Infrastructure to Support Climate-Critical Training?

Applicants that previously received funding from prior Equity Workforce funding opportunities – Equity Workforce Planning Grants, Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants, MWBE Support Grants, or Equity Workforce Training Implementation Grants – can apply for Strand C without also applying for Strand A, as long as all other eligibility criteria are met. Applicants that have not received prior Equity Workforce funding may only apply to Strand C if also applying to Strand A. Those organizations seeking equipment or infrastructure funding but not seeking funding for training implementation should consider applying to MassCEC’s Climate-Critical Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure grant or to other applicable capital grants from other funding sources.

2. Do applicants to Strand C: Equipment and Infrastructure to Support Climate-Critical Training that are also applying to Strand A need to submit a separate application

Yes, applicants that concurrently apply to Strand C and Strand A are required to submit a complete application packet for Strand C and a separate application packet for Strand A to be considered for both.

3. If awarded a grant under Strand C: Equipment and Infrastructure to Support Climate-Critical Training, must an awardee provide matching funds?

While leveraging additional funding is encouraged, grantees awarded funding for equipment or infrastructure under this solicitation are not required to provide matching funds for the work proposed, however grantees that access ARPA funds via other MassCEC solicitations may be required to provide matching dollars per the terms of those RFP solicitations and awards.

4. Can a 501(c)(6) non-profit apply for funding under this RFP?

Yes, a non-profit with a 501(c) designation is eligible to apply, as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements. These funds must be used for the eligible uses listed in the RFP and cannot used for lobbying.

5. Is this funding intended to support only 2-year degrees and apprenticeships? Does it support 4-year degrees? Can it cover tuition and fees via scholarships?

This funding is intended to stimulate entry of underrepresented individuals into the Clean Energy Workforce and into pathways that lead to occupations in Climate-Critical Sectors. Pathways may involve programs such as job training programs, apprenticeships, certificate programs, 2-year degrees, and 4-year degrees. This funding is not intended to provide full college scholarships, and applications requesting funding to support partial scholarships will be assessed with consideration to other available financial aid and tuition supports available to institutional attendees. However, this funding can be used to implement the social support, education, and training of eligible individuals from targeted populations, which may include offsetting training and course fees, providing participant stipends, subsidizing wages for on-the-job training, etc. See Section VII of the RFP for further details on eligible uses

6. Is MassCEC looking for applicants to take advantage of federal grants?

Yes, applicants are asked to leverage other resources, which may include federal grants and other matching sources of funding and/or funding that will continue after funds from this grant are expended to ensure the sustainability of the proposed program.

7. Are Veterans considered a community underrepresented in the Clean Energy Workforce?

Yes, especially female Veterans, as they are underrepresented currently. Male veterans have moderate representation in the Clean Energy Workforce, but if their designation as a Veteran is in addition to being a member of an EJ Neighborhood, Federally Recognized or State Acknowledged Tribe, or Fossil Fuel Worker, it will be viewed favorably.

8. Will Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) from trade associations fulfill the employer MOU requirement?

Yes, as long as the MOUs indicate either some level of commitment by the trade association and its members to interview program graduates for placement in appropriate positions or an outright commitment to hire graduates. The MOUs are intended to demonstrate and solidify a clear potential for entry into the Clean Energy Workforce through the training programs.

9. Are Planning Grants available?

Through this solicitation, MassCEC may award some Planning Grants to those applicants that have a good concept but do not demonstrate the capacity to implement that concept at this stage. In addition, MassCEC offers rolling Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants.

10. Are there any limits or restrictions on types of wraparound support services?

No, there are no specific limits on types of wraparound support services to be provided via these programs. Working with marginalized and underrepresented communities often requires comprehensive and holistic support services to ensure success, so those proposals with thoughtful wraparound support service plans will likely score more favorably.

11. Is there a preference for training programs that provide college course credits?

Programs leading to attainment of a professional credential or a college degree or earning articulated credits may result in a more favorable score, but this is not a requirement under this solicitation, as certain occupation pathways do not align directly with college courses.

12. Are there caps on the amount of funds used to purchase or lease equipment?

Under Strand A, there is no explicit cap on funds used to purchase or lease equipment. However, the amount requested must be reasonable within the context of the program and be a reasonable proportion of the proposed budget, and all equipment must be designated for use within the program. For larger capital purchases or leases, applicants are encouraged to consider applying to Strand C, in addition to Strand A, or to MassCEC’s Climate-Critical Training, Equipment, and Infrastructure grant. Under Strand C, the maximum amount of funds available per award for capital is $750,000, however applicants are encouraged to consider the administrative, installation, and maintenance costs within that maximum when proposing a budget. Acquisition of equipment for general operating purposes is not an acceptable use of this funding.

13. Does the decarbonization of industrial processes and manufacturing supply chains qualify for funding under this RFP?

MassCEC is very interested in the supply chain related to Clean Energy Tech, such as the offshore wind and blue economy supply chain. Funding from this solicitation could be used to train individuals from targeted populations to enter jobs related to those supply chains, however, directly supporting decarbonization projects does not qualify as an acceptable use of these funds. Other RFP opportunities and departments at MassCEC may be a more appropriate match for those projects.

14. If my organization previously received funding from the Offshore Wind team at MassCEC, are we still eligible for this solicitation?

Yes, organizations that have received prior funding from MassCEC are still eligible to respond to this solicitation, as long as the proposed program is separate and distinct from the programs supported by prior funding. Expansion of an existing proven program to include new target populations or upskilling the delivered curriculum may be viewed as separate and distinct; extending and sustaining the existing program without any impactful changes will not be viewed as separate and distinct.

15. Can funds be used to cover program staff costs? Is it an expectation that those program staff hired specifically to deliver the program be retained after the term of the grant?

Yes, funds can be used to cover the salaries and benefits of staff delivering services related to the program. While it is not a specific requirement for a grantee to retain staff brought on for the program after the term of the grant, those applications that include plans to leverage other resources to sustain the program following the term of the grant may score more favorably.

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. Are there equal funding pools for the January and May deadlines for the Equity Workforce Training Grants?

MassCEC does not have a predetermined funding amount for the January and May deadlines. Funding for the May deadline will be contingent on the amount disbursed to awardees resulting from the January deadline application.

19. Are applicants eligible to apply for multiple strands on the same grant?

Yes. Applicants are not restricted from applying for multiple strands, but the capacity to successfully complete the work will be part of the award consideration. To apply to Strand C, if an applicant has not received prior Equity Workforce funding, the applicant needs to also apply to Strand A in a separate application packet.

20. Can we apply to fund an additional training cycle of a program that already has MassCEC funding?

An application to fund an additional training cycle of an existing MassCEC funded program will need to show that the expanded training will benefit a set of participants distinct from those who benefitted from the existing MassCEC grant.

21. Are there specific performance requirements and expectations?

Applicants must provide milestones in the application that show the outcomes resulting from the grant, such as the number of participants served, completion rate of the training program, and number of off-ramp or job placements upon program completion.

22. Do we need to have employer partners already or can we use the grant to develop partnerships?

The RFP requires two MOUs or LOSs signaling potential placements for participants. The grant will allow for a six-month ramp-up that includes partnership development. If more employers will be involved beyond the first two signaled in the MOUs or LOSs, that ramp-up time could be time to increase your partners. The plan for solidifying partnerships should be explained in the application to be considered competitive.

23. Do you have a definition of what constitutes equipment and infrastructure?

MassCEC will consider all types of equipment and infrastructure, as the types of equipment and infrastructure will vary for different programs. Equipment and infrastructure that will provide longer term impact on the training program beyond the grant period will be viewed as more competitive by reviewers.

24. If we don’t receive funding for 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 next deadline.

25. When applying for Strand C, are written quotes for equipment costs needed?

They are not required to apply, but they are recommended as they make the application stronger. Once your application has been reviewed, we may reach out for written quotes for items included in the proposed budget.

26. 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 that the other entity is aware of this application. The MOU or LOS should include the responsibilities of the entity as included in the application

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 Powering the Future: A Massachusetts Clean Energy Workforce Needs Assessment along with the following additional resources to inform their applications:

Workforce Development

Networking icon

Networking

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 Training Implementation Grant Projects

Round 1 Grantee
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Action for Equity is launching the Green Equity Partnership (GEP), an incumbent worker training and advancement project serving new hires and experienced workers needing green upskilling in heat pump installation and decarbonization auditing.  

Round 1 Grantee
BlocPower

BlocPower is recruiting and training returning citizens into entry level trades occupations in the high-performance building sector, prioritizing case management and appropriate support services.  

Round 1 Grantee
Building Pathways

Building Pathways is providing Building Trades Pre-Apprentice Training Cycles and SkillsBuild pre-apprenticeship training cycles in partnership with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Massachusetts Laborer’s District Council for individuals entering climate-critical occupations in the construction sector. 

Round 1 Grantee
Community Works Services

Community Works Services is delivering the Solar Technician Training Program utilizing Power52’s accredited curriculum which incorporates technical training and soft skills training to ensure participants are career ready.  

Round 1 Grantee
Energetics

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Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology

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Greater Lawrence Technical School

Greater Lawrence Technical School is developing a 15-week training program comprised of hands-on training, OSHA 10 certification, and career readiness curriculum to create access to a variety of careers in the high-performance building and net-zero grid sectors for Lawrence-area residents. 

Round 1 Grantee
Greenfield Community College

Greenfield Community College, in partnership with MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board and Career Center, is developing and launching a robust training program for HVAC workers targeting historically underrepresented individuals, including residents of Environmental Justice neighborhoods, young adults, women, and returning citizens. 

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Julius Education

Julius Education is developing its capacity to expand the support services provided by the proposed Massachusetts Good Green Jobs Navigator, a workforce readiness and career exploration program, by hiring Program Navigator Associates.  

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LISC

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Round 1 Grantee
MassHire North Shore

MassHire North Shore is launching a training initiative designed to stimulate entry of underrepresented individuals into offshore wind careers through 6-month pre-apprenticeship programs.

Round 1 Grantee
MassHire South Shore

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Round 1 Grantee
National Society of Black Engineers Boston Professionals Chapter

National Society of Black Engineers Boston Professionals Chapter is hiring a job developer for the Inspire Youth STEM Workforce Development Program, which provides clean energy career awareness through early exposure and internship opportunities for K-12 Greater Boston students.

Round 1 Grantee
Nordee Enterprise

Nordee Enterprise is deploying a one-year pilot of the Transform Power Workforce Hub to provide customized career pathways for underserved adults seeking careers in the clean energy sector including training opportunities and employer connections.

Round 1 Grantee
People Acting in Community Endeavors

People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE) is developing the capacity of its READY (Reaching Employment Access to Discover Your Future) Program by establishing specific off-ramp pathways into training programs in or adjacent to offshore wind in the Greater New Bedford area.  

Round 1 Grantee
RARE

RARE is deploying the Boston SHINE solar training program which incorporates theory and in-person lab activities including training for solar installation, operations, maintenance, and safety.

Round 1 Grantee
Tremco

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Additional Funding Opportunities

EmPower Massachusetts

Funding type
Grants
Award Potential

$300,000 (Priority Track Implementation)

$150,000 (Non-Priority Track Implementation)

$50,000 (Innovation & Capacity Building)

Application Deadline

Innovation and Capacity Building: Rolling through April 3, 2024

Implementation: October 18, 2023 and April 3, 2024