Career Pathway Program Notice of Funding Opportunity

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​​Program Description

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is the agency responsible for administering statewide workforce development activities outlined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Funding for WIOA comes through the U.S. Department of Labor to eligible applicants. Additionally, DCEO supports the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB), the governing body for WIOA. The responsibility of the IWIB is to assist the Governor in the development and continuous improvement of the workforce system, which includes the creation of strategies that support the use of career pathways. These pathways connect young people with barriers to meaningful education, training, and employment.

As the state administrator for WIOA, DCEO, and its partners, are issuing this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO,) which sets forth the 2021 WIOA Statewide Youth Career Pathways Initiative requirements. Partners for this effort include the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), IWIB Career Pathways for Targeted Populations (CPTP), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). These partners seek to incorporate practices that meet the state adopted definition for a career pathway framework detailed in the Career Pathways Dictionary into initiatives throughout Illinois.

Read the Youth Career Pathways press release.


NOFO Purpose

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, unemployment rates were at or near record lows, and many adults had successfully gained or increased employment. However, the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent economic downturn caused unemployment highs among all groups of workers. Among the 19.3 million workers ages 16 to 24 in the economy, 9.2 million, or nearly half, are employed in service-sector establishments. Youth workers make up 24% of employment in higher-risk industries, and many establishments have significantly reduced staff and services or closed. In Illinois, youth unemployment rates rose from 4.3% in March 2020 to 12.8% in May 2020, which remains consistent through August 2020 data. Under these circumstances, youth face significant challenges in finding gainful employment as these businesses struggle to recover, particularly in those areas that have been impacted the most. 

This NOFO not only seeks to address the staggeringly high unemployment rate for youth but seeks to advance the vision, principles, goals, and strategies articulated within the State of Illinois WIOA Unified State Plan and the priorities outlined in the Regional and Local Workforce Plans. Additionally, Governor Pritzker has outlined his priorities for revitalizing economic growth and creating economic opportunity in communities across the state through Executive Order 2019-03, and the Five-Year Economic Development Plan (Appendix A- outlines the guiding principles). Proposals must consider how the program model aligns with the Action Areas outlined in Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 2019-03 - An Action Agenda for Workforce Development and Job Creation and priorities in the Plan to Revitalize the Illinois Economy and Build the Workforce of the Future.  

Action Areas in the Agenda are:

  • Unite workforce development partners around regional cluster strategies
  • Prepare Illinois workers for a career, not just their next job.
  • Connect job seekers with employers 

Strategic Goals in the Plan to Revitalize Illinois are:

  • Provide world-class customer service
  • Build the workforce of the future
  • Win in key industries

Proposed Models

This NOFO solicits proposals from eligible organizations capable of developing a framework that strengthens career pathway systems. These systems will improve youth college and career readiness, create employment opportunities, address equity in underserved communities, and expand partnerships between the workforce system, education, and business. 

Proposals must integrate workforce services, education, and economic development to address the challenges youth face in obtaining marketable and in-demand skills. All projects must include essential employability skills, financial and digital literacy, assessments, and programming. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate how they will implement the program components listed below and address the applicable program requirements/career pathways found in Appendix B.

Illinois is interested in funding projects that highlight underserved populations and increase equity in underrepresented areas. Projects that address youth issues in either regions or demographic areas documented to be higher than the statewide average will be prioritized. These target areas include high school dropout rate, Free & Reduced Lunch Program, homelessness, or regions and demographics highly represented in justice-involved youth. In addressing these issues, the applicant must demonstrate collaboration with the organizations that serve these youth.  In developing projects to address the above challenges youth face, we have added the standard definitions list in Appendix C for federal funding. This list incorporates the common language used throughout the workforce system and this Notice of Funding Opportunity.



Technical Assistance Session

For questions regarding the TA Sessions listed below, please email Terah.Scott@illinois.gov

NOFO Review (Bidders Conference) February 3rd  (1-4 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

GATA - NOFO Requirements: February 3rd  (1-4 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

GATA - Grants 101: February 4th  (10-11 am) (PPT) (Recording)

Toolkit Career Development: February 8th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

College/Career Endorsement: February 9th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

Business Engagement: February 10th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

Work-Based Learning (WBL): February 12th  (11 am - 12 pm) (PDF) (Recording)

Individual Training Account (ITA): February 18th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT)

Worker's Rights for Youth: February 23rd (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (PDF) (Recording)

Performance Measures: February 25th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (PDF) (Recording)

Sustainability Plans: February 26th  (11 am -12 pm) (PPT) (Recording)

Illinois workNet Reviewers Tab (12pm - 2pm) 


NOFO Materials
  • Youth Career Pathway NOFO (PDF)
  • Application Checklist (Word)
  • Executive Summary (Word)
  • Uniform Application (PDF)
  • GATA Budget (Excel)
  • Youth Career Pathway Scoring Form (Excel)
  • Program Year 2020/2021 WIOA Title I Youth Performance Measures (PDF)
  • DCEO Mandatory Disclosure Form (PDF)
  • Conflcit of Interest Disclosure Form (Word)
  • 2021 Youth Final Goals (Excel)
  • Reviewers Only: Access Applications

Resources

FAQs

Funding Information
It is anticipated that the Department of Commerce will award $3-4 million in Youth Career Pathways grants, with the potential for additional funding contributed by other WIOA Core Partners. The maximum funding request is $500,000; however, the Department of Commerce may elect to award amounts over this amount based on demonstrated need and strength of application or strength of performance during the grant period. 


Submission Dates and Times

All applications must be sent electronically to the Department of Commerce by 5:00 pm on April 1, 2021, to be considered for funding. Application materials must be submitted to the Department via the following email address: CEO.YouthGrants@illinois.gov. Please note that the conditions for submitting applications, including the deadline, may not be waived or extended regardless of any circumstances resulting in delayed delivery of the proposal.  Any application received after the deadline may be considered for review at the Department of Commerce's discretion. In such cases, the Department of Commerce will determine if funds are available to make additional grant awards.  Failure to meet the application deadline may result in the Department returning the application without review or may preclude the Department from making the award.

Anticipated Announcement and State Award Dates
​The tentative date for grant negotiations is May 2021, with the anticipated program start date of July 2021.

Appendices
  • APPENDIX A - WIOA VISION AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES (Word)
  • APPENDIX B - INTRODUCTION TO WIOA CAREER PATHWAYS DEFINITION (Word)
  • APPENDIX C - FEDERAL FUNDING WORKFORCE GRANTS DEFINITIONS (Word)
  • APPENDIX D - TARGET POPULATION DATA (Word)
  • APPENDIX E - WIOA YOUTH ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA (Word)
  • APPENDIX F - LWIA & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT REGIONAL MAP (Word)
  • APPENDIX G - REGIONAL PLANS & MOU APPROVAL STATUS DASHBOARD (Word)
  • APPENDIX H - LETTER OF COMMITMENT FROM THE LOCAL WORKFORCE INNOVATION BOARD (Word)
  • APPENDIX I - DEFINITION OF IN-SCHOOL YOUTH (ISY) AND OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTH (OSY) (Word)
  • APPENDIX J - DESK REFERENCE ON WORK-BASED LEARNING FOR YOUTH (Word)
  • APPENDIX K - LWIA PY 20/PY 21 NEGOTIATED PERFORMANCE MEASURES (Word)
  • APPENDIX L - SUSTAINABILITY PLAN EXAMPLE (Word)

CSFA/CFDA Numbers for Application
CSFA

420-30-0075

CFDA
17.258 - WIOA Adult Program
17.259 - WIOA Youth Activities
17-278 - WIOA Dislocated Worker Formula Grants


Illinois Pathways