Frequently Asked Questions

For an overview of the Fund and responses to common applicant questions, you may also want to review the recording of our June 16, 2022 Fund for Workforce Equity Applicant Webinar:

Please click here to download a copy of the Applicant Webinar slide deck.

Have additional questions not answered here?

Please email us at FWE@workforce-matters.org no later than July 15, 2022.

Overview

What is the Fund for Workforce Equity?

The Fund for Workforce Equity is a new Workforce Matters pooled funding initiative that aims to center workers of color in workforce policy and program design and implementation, one of the primary recommendations in Workforce Matters’ Racial Equity Framework for Workforce Development Funders.  The Fund for Workforce Equity will provide flexible resources and support to workforce development organizations seeking to pilot and learn from new strategies as well as innovate on or extend existing strategies to center workers and learners of color.

What are the fund’s goals?

The fund’s goals are to support workforce organizations in developing, testing, strengthening, and/or extending strategies to engage workers and learners of color in informing workforce policy and program design and implementation, thereby making workforce programs and policies more responsive to their needs.  In addition, the fund will support learning among both funders and workforce organizations in order to expand the use of effective strategies to center and amplify the voices of workers and learners.

What do you mean by workforce development?

In our Racial Equity Framework, we defined workforce development as a system that “aims to address the need for employment and advancement in the labor market through services, programs, systems, and networks that provide people with education, skill development and access to jobs. It also seeks to address the quantity, quality, and location of these jobs and to meet employer needs for a skilled workforce.” Our definition includes not only skills and training but also efforts to address job quality, worker voice and agency, and the social determinants of work.

What strategies will the fund support?

The Fund for Workforce Equity will support the following strategies:

  • Grants.  Flexible grants of up to $70,000/year to workforce organizations so they can pilot and learn from different ways of authentically engaging and centering workers and learners of color in program and policy design and implementation
  • Learning Community.  A learning community so organizations can learn from each other and disseminate methods and lessons learned.
  • Technical Assistance/Expertise.  Access to expertise and resources on human-centered design and other best practices for elevating worker and learner voice.
  • Evaluation and Learning.  An evaluation of the initiative and share learning with funders so they can further disseminate and invest in promising practices among their grantees.

What is the timeline for launching the fund?

Workforce Matters has completed its first round of fundraising.  The RFP for grants was released on May 31, 2022. Applications are due on Jul 31, 2022. Awards are expected to be announced by October 15, 2022.

For Funders

How do I contribute?

Workforce Matters is accepting contributions to the fund through our fiscal sponsor, Funders Together to End Homelessness.  While the window to contribute toward our Fall 2022 grant cycle is closed, funders are welcome to make gifts toward our second round of funding, which we anticipate will be in Fall 2023.

Do I have to be a supporting member of Workforce Matters to contribute to the fund?

Any funder is welcome to contribute to the Fund for Workforce Equity. However, if a funder is not already a Workforce Matters supporting member, the first $1,500 of their contribution to the fund will go toward a supporting membership, which supports Workforce Matters’ overall programming and makes initiatives like the Fund for Workforce Equity possible.

Is there a minimum contribution?

Workforce Matters’ supporting members are welcome to make a gift of any size to the fund, but only those who give more than $25,000 annually will be invited to participate on the advisory committee of the fund.

How will governance and decisionmaking for the Fund work?

Funders who contribute $25,000 or more to the Fund for Workforce Equity may join the fund’s advisory committee, which will consist of both funders and stakeholders, but they are not required to do so. The advisory committee will meet quarterly or as needed to help determine the overall strategy, priorities, learning goals, and direction of the fund and weigh in on the grant docket for the fund.  The Workforce Matters Steering Committee will approve all grants from the fund.

Can I recommend applicants or projects for funding?

Yes! We welcome funders to share this opportunity with their grantees and networks. While we cannot guarantee that a grantee from your portfolio will receive funding, one of our goals is to share promising approaches to centering workers and learners of color with the Workforce Matters network to create greater awareness of good work happening in the field.

What if my foundation/organization has particular grantmaking interests or restrictions—like geography, sector, or target population? How can I participate?

We welcome you to participate!  We need and welcome your insights about promising strategies for engaging workers and learners from different specific target populations, industry sectors, or parts of the workforce ecosystem. We are happy to work with you to ensure that organizations that fit your foundation’s grantmaking priorities get the word about the opportunity to apply.  Beyond this, if you would like to contribute but need to earmark funds toward specific priorities or regions, please reach out to us at FWE@workforce-matters.org to discuss options for participation.

Will the fund include learning opportunities for funders?

Yes! We are supporting a process and outcomes evaluation as part of the fund and will share the results with the Workforce Matters network.  Contributors will also have the opportunity to learn in “real time” through the application and grantmaking process, if they wish to, and we will hold regular advisory committee meetings to share learnings and keep funders apprised of the work. 

What is the fund’s conflict of interest policy?

Funders and stakeholders who are part of the selection process must disclose any affiliations that may pose a potential conflict of interest.  Those with potential conflicts may still participate but will not be included in discussions or decisions about applicant organizations with which they have a significant affiliation.

For Applicants

Questions about Applying for Funding

How do I apply for funding?

Submit an application to FWE@workforce-matters.org by end of day on Jul 31, 2022. Application materials are posted at https://www.workforce-equity.org/rfp/

Do I have to be a member of Workforce Matters to apply?

No.  Applicants do not have to be members of Workforce Matters to apply.

Do I have to be nominated by a funder or Workforce Matters member to apply?

No. The Fund for Workforce Equity is using an open application process.

What is the deadline to apply?

July 31, 2022, 11:59 pm in the applicant’s timezone.  

How much funding will be available?

Up to $1,000,000 total will be available for all grants. We anticipate making grants of up to $70,000 per organization, with an average award size of between $50,000-$70,000. 

Can I apply for more than one year of funding?

If your project will take longer than one year to implement, you may request a longer award period, but the total grant award will not exceed $70,000/organization in this first round of funding.

I am having trouble downloading the application. Can you email it to me?

Yes. Please reach out to FWE@workforce-matters.org, and we can help you.

What is the fund’s conflict of interest policy?

Funders and stakeholders who are part of the selection process must disclose any affiliations that may pose a potential conflict of interest.  Those with potential conflicts may still participate but will not be included in discussions or decisions about applicant organizations with which they have a significant affiliation.

General Questions about Eligibility

Am I eligible to apply if I previously received funding through Workforce Matters and Associated Black Charities’ Advancing Racial Equity in Workforce Development initiative?

Yes.  Organizations that previously received funding through the Advancing Racial Equity in Workforce Development initiative are welcome to apply.

We receive funding from one of the organizations on the advisory committee.  Can we still apply?

Yes.

Are there any requirements for applicants in terms of previous work or organizational capacity in racial equity?

Yes.  Applicant organizations will be expected to have a demonstrated commitment to utilizing a racial equity lens in their work and to have already invested in organizational racial equity training.  Direct service organizations should also be serving a majority of workers and learners of color.  

What kind of racial equity training should organizations have invested in before applying for this funding?

We expect organizations to have invested in general/introductory training on racial equity terms, definitions, concepts and application, including skills and knowledge that prepare individuals and organizations to address structural racism and advance racial equity. Typically, this training includes key concepts such as racial equity and structural racism; support for talking about race within an organization and/or with constituents; practices and tools for counteracting racial bias; and opportunities for applying concepts and strategies that advance racial equity. 

I work for a large organization with many programs. Although a majority of workers and learners served by the large organization are not people of color, can we apply for a grant from the Fund to support a program that does serve a majority of workers and learners of color?

Yes. A large organization may submit an application on behalf of one of its programs that serves a majority of workers and learners of color even if that is not true of the larger organization.

What is a workforce organization? 

As stated in the RFP, a workforce organization is one that provides programming or advocacy, including but not limited to:

  • Education and training programs that help individuals acquire and retain good jobs
  • Efforts that help workers to increase their income and/or advance their careers
  • Internships, apprenticeships, and/or learn-and-earn experiences
  • Career coaching/counseling
  • Providing or coordinating work supports such as transportation or child care services
  • Organizing or advocacy efforts related to any of the above

What do you mean by direct services?

Direct workforce services include: 

  • Education and training programs that help individuals acquire and retain good jobs
  • Efforts that help workers to increase their income and/or advance their careers
  • Internships, apprenticeships, and/or learn-and-earn experiences
  • Career coaching/counseling
  • Providing or coordinating work supports such as transportation or child care services

Does the provision of internships qualify as workforce development?

Yes.

Does the provision of apprenticeship programs qualify as workforce development?

Yes.

Is a multi-service organization that provides workforce programs along with other types of programs and services eligible to apply?

Yes.

Is a new organization that operates with a fiscal sponsor eligible to apply?

Yes.

Does the size of the applicant organization in terms of budget or people served affect eligibility?

No.

Will funds be available to pass-through organizations?

While organizations that provide pass-through funding are eligible to apply, we anticipate that the Fund will prioritize those organizations that propose projects that directly engage workers and learners in informing their workforce programs and policies, rather than those that propose to pass through our funds to others.

What do you mean by workers and learners of color? 

We use the term People of Color or workers and learners of color to refer to those who have been disadvantaged by systemic racism in workforce policies, practices, and programs.  They may include citizens or immigrants who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander, and other People of Color.

Are refugees and immigrants included?

Yes.

Are people of Middle Eastern descent included?

Yes.

Are English Language Learners included?

Yes.

How do you include disability in your priorities?

We are very much interested in seeing applications for organizations serving workers and learners of color with disabilities and wanting to engage with them to design and implement workforce programs and policies.

Is there a definition of populations impacted by Covid 19?

Not one specific definition. However, we would expect that applicants would be able to provide data and/or information about how COVID-19 has impacted their target population if this is the priority area under which the organization are applying.

If we are not in a targeted place, are we eligible for funding?

Yes.

If we are not in a targeted place, should we even bother submitting?

We hope to receive and review proposals from a wide range of geographies and that serve a wide range of workers and learners.  We know there are limited funds available, however.  We hope to address this in part by sharing applicant information (for those that opt in) with our network of funders.

Questions about Acceptable Uses of Funding and Funding Priorities

May funds be used for general or introductory racial equity training for organizations? How about continuing/ongoing racial equity training?

Grants from the Fund for Workforce Equity may not be used to support general organizational racial equity training, which applicants must demonstrate they have already invested in.

What do you mean by ‘authentic engagement with workers and learners of color’? How does that differ from ‘programs that primarily provide services for workers/learners of color’? 

Proposal reviewers will be looking for evidence that applicants take seriously the feedback and input of program participants and/or potential program participants.  This can be demonstrated in a number of different ways, including how the organization has previously demonstrated its commitment to centering worker and learner voice; how the organization has previously learned from and taken action on worker and learner feedback; and how the organization compensates workers and learners for their participation in efforts that inform program or policy design and implementation. Engagement with workers and learners–putting them at the center of designing and implementing the work–is related to but different from service provision.

Is the funding for new projects or does it support existing projects?

Funding can be requested for new or existing projects. If funding for existing work is requested, we ask that applicants describe how a grant from the Fund for Workforce Equity will build on or extend this work. Funding for the Fund for Workforce Equity should not supplant existing funding.

Can funds be used for program, and/or policy work that is advocating for workers/learners of color, and/or planning work?

Grant funds should be used to support the engagement of workers and learners of color in designing and/or implementing workforce programs and policies, as opposed to ongoing program delivery or advocacy work that is done on behalf of workers and learners of color but that does not directly engage them. 

Must the organization itself be BIPOC-led and/or have a predominance of BIPOC staff?

No.  However, we will be looking at the Workforce Composition Survey and organizational demographics as a part of the application review process.

I understand funds can be used for supportive services. Is that specifically to provide supportive services for our workers OR for the learners of color we serve OR possibly both?

The purpose of providing funding for supportive services should be to enable workers and learners of color to participate in the process of providing input into the design, development, or implementation of workforce programs and policies.  So long as this criteria is met, the supportive service might be for an organization’s own staff and/or for the workers and learners of color that it serves.

Can funding support staff salaries or consultant fees?

Yes.

Do you have in mind how many individuals should be served by a project/applicant?

No.

Are indirect costs allowed?

Yes.

Is there a cap on the percentage of funding that can go toward overhead and indirect?

There is not. However, we will be taking into account the following budget/finance-related criteria in reviewing the applications, as stated in the RFP:

  • Alignment between funds requested and the proposed scope of work
  • Capacity to manage the grant
  • Need for resources

​​If partial funding has been secured for a project would a request for the same project be considered “supplanting”?

No.

Can the funding be used to support regional initiatives, such as industry sector partnerships?

Yes. As long as the funding will support the engagement of workers and learners in designing or implementing these initiatives.

Can joint proposals be submitted?

Yes.

Can one application support several projects?

Yes.

Would forming or expanding an advisory council made of workers/learners of color that help direct an organization’s program and policies be aligned with the grant priorities?

Yes.

Would providing cultural competency workshops to employers focused on refugee, immigrant workers and how to best support them, increase their cultural awareness etc and supporting employers with multilingual support be within the priorities of the RFP?

For this type of project, it would be important to demonstrate how workers and learners themselves would be engaged in designing and/or implementing these workshops.

We have a program focused on raising workplace standards for construction workers and conceived by construction workers. We would be seeking funding for that external program, but the funding would use to facilitate workers updating the program standards to reflect changes in the industry since the program’s inception. Would that qualify? 

Yes.

We are seeking funding for a program to encourage underrepresented populations to pursue STEM careers.  Participants would be from multiple colleges and universities. Would this qualify?

It is not a problem for participants to come from multiple colleges or universities. However, the focus of the project should be on how the learners themselves are engaged in the design and implementation of this outreach program.  

Are there limitations on the types of supportive services that the funding can support?

No, so long as the applicant can make the case that the particular supportive service is related to the intent of the Fund: to support workforce organizations in developing, testing, strengthening, and/or extending strategies to engage workers and learners of color in informing workforce policy and program design and implementation.

Questions about Review Criteria

What review criteria will you use to score proposals?

These criteria are listed in the RFP:

  • Prior organizational experience with and commitment to work on Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI)
  • Demonstrated commitment to centering worker and learner voice
  • Demonstrated commitment to learning and taking action on feedback
  • Provision of stipends, honoraria or other compensation for worker and learners for the purpose of obtaining input and feedback to inform program or policy design and implementation 
  • Alignment between funds requested and the proposed scope of work
  • Potential impact of the proposed project  
  • Capacity to manage the grant 
  • Need for resources 
  • Alignment with Fund for Workforce Equity priority populations or learning interests 

Do you prefer that organizations collaborate?

No. There is no preference for collaborative projects.

Is this more about engaging learners to contribute to workforce policies or more direct service to give youth/adults of color career coaching and work experience?

This Fund is geared toward engaging learners and workers in helping to develop, inform, and implement workforce development policies and programs.  The Fund is not geared to support the provision of direct workforce services to workers and learners.

Will organizations who have received other similar grants be seen or considered differently?

No. However, if the organization has received funding for similar efforts in the past, we would like the organization to reflect on what they have learned from these prior efforts.

Other Questions

Will WFM work to engage other funders in selected sites to influence their practices/funding?

We would very much like to do this and look forward to working with selected grantees to figure out how best to approach this!

Can you share more on the learning and evaluation part of this RFP? What would be the requirements of the grantees?

We expect to streamline reporting and evaluation requirements as much as possible, understanding that this is a rather modest one-year grant. That said, we also hope that the learning and evaluation components add value to the grantees. Grantees can expect to participate in a learning community that meets ~four times virtually over the course of the grant period. They can also expect to submit a final report and to be contacted by the evaluation team at key points during the grant period.  The details for the evaluation have yet to be finalized.

What types of technical assistance might you offer?

We will design the technical assistance offerings around grantee needs.  Some areas we are currently considering include: 

  • Human-centered design
  • Journey mapping
  • Gathering and applying feedback from workers and learners
  • Community organizing
  • Power building and power sharing
  • Establishing worker/learner councils and advisory bodies
  • Sustainability of grant-supported efforts

Is there a specific budget format or template we should use?

No. Applicants may use their own budget templates. However, the RFP does ask for a line-item project budget that lists all relevant categories for which applicants are requesting support, including staff, contractors/consultants, participant honoraria/compensation, other direct costs, and any indirect costs. Sample budgets can be found on Candid.’s website. Applicants are also required to submit a budget narrative and an organizational budget for the current fiscal year.

Where can we direct any additional questions not covered here?

Please email us at FWE@workforce-matters.org no later than July 15, 2022.

Last updated June 23, 2022.

This FAQ is provided for informational purposes only. Terms subject to change.