Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship (CEJA) NOFO 2023 FAQs

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  1. Are the federal and state incentives and governmental programs coordinating how the solar industry operates, pushing towards making all solar companies eventually convert to unionizing? Or are there programs that would assist non-union installers?

    ​The CEJA programs will build a diverse pipeline of candidates for both non-union and union clean energy jobs. Applicants who apply for funding to deliver the CEJA workforce programs (including the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program) are encouraged to partner with employers (both union and non-union) to identify the most promising opportunities for engagement around workforce needs. The CEJA Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program and the Clean Jobs Contractor Accelerator Program, once they are open, will provide support to contractors to help them grow their businesses and take advantage of CEJA and other state and federal funding for clean energy projects. Support from these programs may include assistance to become unionized if beneficial to the participating contractors.

  2. Are there any limits to the number or sizes of files that can be submitted as a complete application?

    There is no limit to the number of attachments or size of files.

  3. Are there specific expectations for the inclusion of Illinois Essential Employability Skills Framework & conflict mediation topics? Are devoted classes expected, or can topics be incorporated into NABTU-MC3 programming & other workforce readiness topics?

    ​Applicants are encouraged to utilize the Essential Employability Skills Handbook and Assessment to develop a curriculum around these topics. Applicants may propose to devote classes entirely to these topics or incorporate them into existing programming or other workforce readiness topics. For an example of the topics and content that could be taught, please see pages 95-123 of the Illinois Works Program Handbook.

  4. Are you specifically looking for applicants from Chicago, East St. Louis, and Peoria?

    ​Chicago, Peoria, and East St. Louis are three potential locations for the three Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Centers but certainly not the only options. Competitive applications will propose training at multiple locations throughout the proposed regions. Applicants should identify locations in the region where large numbers of equity investment-eligible individuals reside and provide outreach and training accessible to these individuals. When selecting training locations, they should consider the availability of apprenticeship programs in the region to facilitate apprenticeship placement.

  5. Can a participant who transitions to a registered apprenticeship program prior to completion of pre-apprenticeship training still be counted as a successful transition?

    To be determined. It may depend upon how much of the pre-apprenticeship program they complete.

  6. Can different groups in a grant application employ a different model? I.e., one org is cohort-based, and another offers program flexibility.

    ​Yes, applicants may offer different training options that provide different delivery models.

  7. Can you share the list of potential applicants who filed the intent to apply?

  8. Do all sub-grantees have to be sub-grantees to the prime (lead recipient); or can sub-grantees contract with providers of their choice to reach additional communities?

    Subgrantees or contractors may contract with other subgrantees instead of with prime (lead recipient), but all subgrantees must have a Memorandum of Understanding and be on the record for the grant to receive funds. They must report program participation and outcomes and will need to develop a separate budget and budget justification.

  9. Do sub-grantees proposed by the lead applicant also need to meet requirements for GATA, SAM, and other regulatory requirements to which the lead applicant is subject?

    ​Only recipients and grantees (main applicants) are required to be GATA Pre-Qualified. However, subrecipients/subgrantees must be in good standing with the state (not on the debarred, suspended, excluded parties, or sanctioned parties’ lists). Subrecipients/subgrantees must have a Memorandum of Understanding and be on the record for the grant to receive funds. They must report program participation and outcomes. They will need to develop a separate budget and budget justification.

  10. Does the main applicant need to be a nonprofit organization?

    ​Yes. The main grantee must be a nonprofit organization, and the organization that delivers the energy transition barrier reduction services must be a community-based provider, as defined in the NOFO.

  11. Dues and initiation fees are a financial barrier to candidates’ entry into apprenticeships. Can Energy Equity Barrier Reduction Funds be used to cover union apprenticeship initiation fees and early (such as the first month or first quarter) union dues?

    Barrier reduction fees may be used to cover union apprenticeship initiation fees and early (up to the first quarter) union dues.

  12. For budgets, which funding category should cover stipends to participants (Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program funds or Energy Transition Barrier Reduction Services funds)?

    Applicants have flexibility to pay stipends through either funding category.

  13. For participants’ geographic boundaries: If we want to work with a school district and the school is located in the zone, but a student lives outside the area, could they still qualify?

    In this circumstance, we need to determine whether the schools' geographic boundaries mostly align with the Environmental Justice or R3 community boundaries. We are willing to be flexible with eligibility as long as the school boundaries mostly align.

  14. How do the different grant prizes function together as the partnerships overlap one another?

    ​We discourage applicants from applying to be the main grantee for more than one workforce program--if they do, they should consider their capacity to operate both grants if they are selected. However, we anticipate that some organizations may wish to be sub-awardee to deliver program elements for more than one program. For instance, a training provider may be interested in providing training for both the Climate Works Pre-apprenticeship program and the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program. A community-based organization may also be interested in providing wrap-around services for both programs. The services and training they offer may overlap, but they will serve different participants and engage with different program teams.

  15. How do we access to the Potential Partner List?

    The Potential Partner List, which includes organizations that are interested in potential partnerships for one or more of the CEJA workforce programs, can be found here.

  16. How does the Pre-apprenticeship program integrate with the Clean Jobs Workforce Network hubs?

    ​The Climate Works Pre-apprenticeship Program and the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program ("Workforce Hubs") are complementary, with the Pre-apprenticeship Program focusing on preparing people for apprenticeships in the building and construction trades and the Workforce Hubs preparing people for a wide variety of entry-level clean energy jobs. Both programs will also help people with job placement. The two programs should be integrated at several key points including, but not limited to, 1) recruitment (to help applicants decide which program will best meet their needs), 2) support services (to remove barriers for program participants and facilitate referrals), and 3) employer engagement (to identify the employment needs in the region and facilitate job and apprenticeship placement across the two programs).

  17. If we apply for the CEJA Pre-Apprenticeship program, will that diminish our ability to be selected for the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Hub program?

    ​Applicants may apply to deliver more than one program. It will not impact the merit review process. However, applicants should carefully consider whether they can deliver both programs if their proposals are selected.

  18. If we are proposing to work in all three regions, do we need to submit three proposals?

    Yes, applicants should submit one proposal for each of the three regions.

  19. In the NOFO Applicant Team Organization Capacity; Staffing Plan, space allowed (4 pages), will not allow for all staff in a region. May we summarize our staffing plan, qualifications, and list all in the staffing plan attachment w/ biographies/resumes?

    ​Yes, the technical proposal may contain a summary of the staffing plan that is supplemented with the staffing plan attachment, biographies, and resumes.

  20. Is the $10,000 per participant a reference to enrolled candidates, candidates who complete, or candidates who transition to primary and/or secondary outcomes?

    ​The $10,000 estimate per participant is based on the number of participants enrolled.

  21. Is the DCEO Clean Energy Curriculum published somewhere?

    The Clean Energy Curriculum Framework will be used in the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program, NOT the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program. However, applicants are welcome to review as they develop their own curriculum. It can be viewed here.

  22. Is the formula on Page 13 of the NOFO based on the combined Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program funding and Energy Transition Barrier Reduction Services together, or only the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program funding alone?

    ​The Energy Transition Barrier Reduction Services are included in the estimate of $10,000 per participant cost. However, we note that barrier reduction services are meant to be as comprehensive as possible to help remove barriers to participation and may exceed $10,000 for some participants. Applicants may propose a program cost per participant that is different from the estimate and should justify their program cost.

  23. Is there another NOFO for Hubs interested in solar, or is this the only one? The previous CEJA webinar mentioned 5 separate grants.

    This spring and summer, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity will release additional Notice of Funding Opportunities for other CEJA programs, including:
    • Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program
    • Returning Resident Clean Jobs Program
    • Energy Transition Navigator Program
    • Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program
    All programs will prepare people for clean energy jobs, including solar jobs. Please refer to this webpage.

  24. Is there flexibility in the payment model? We often have candidates that do not complete training because they got into a trade. Since getting into a trade is the goal, would we be paid for both completing and the transition?

    ​Yes. Completion (regardless of whether they are placed in an apprenticeship program) represents 30% of the total funding. Outcomes represent 35% of the total performance-based model, and payment will be based on whether the outcome is the primary outcome (apprenticeship placement or waiting list) or a secondary outcome (job placement or alternative training program enrollment). The exact amount that will be paid for primary and secondary outcomes has not yet been determined.

  25. Is this NOFO pro-union? What about those of us that are not unions?

    The primary goal of this program is to prepare people to enter and succeed in a Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship program in the construction or building trades. In Illinois, most, but not all, of these Registered Apprenticeship programs are union labor. Applicants may partner with any construction or building trade Registered Apprenticeship program, regardless of whether it is a union program, to help facilitate placement in apprenticeship programs. The organization(s) that deliver the pre-apprenticeship program need not be union-affiliated but will likely need to work with union apprenticeship programs to achieve program outcomes.

  26. Must all participants reside in an R3 or Equity Eligible area, or can any person who meets the criteria of equity-focused population participate?

    Applicants must meet the criteria of equity investment eligible individual to participate (i.e., be in an equity investment eligible area or be formerly incarcerated or a current/former member of the foster care system). The equity-focused population criteria are provided for outreach purposes.

  27. The curriculum template calls for 32 hours of Soft Skills based on the IEESF. Is a curriculum already available for these hours? 32 dedicated hours seem to contravene the recommended incorporation of these topics by IEESF developers.

    ​Applicants do not need to use the same curriculum hours as those proposed in the curriculum example. Applicants should adjust the hours as they see fit, depending on their program design and content. Applicants are encouraged to contextualize and integrate essential employability skills into the construction curriculum when relevant or provide stand-alone training for some topics.

  28. The NOFO for Pre-Apprenticeship states that the Applicant does not have to be a nonprofit to be eligible as long as they have a nonprofit sub-awardee manage the barrier funds. Does this mean they can be a for-profit company and still apply?

    The main grantee must be a nonprofit organization to apply for funding to deliver this program. A subgrantee may be a for-profit organization as long as the lead organization is a nonprofit.

  29. The NOFO mentions drug testing as part of the screening process for participants. Is this mandatory, and if so, does it need to test for cannabis?

    Drug testing is not mandatory for participation in the Pre-Apprenticeship program, but please note that many apprenticeship programs require drug testing (and some test for cannabis). Grantees should ensure that program participants are aware of drug testing requirements.

  30. The NOFO refers to R3 areas, which contains the table of R3 areas in Illinois, including those marked “High Need Area.” Is the Department interested in any R3 area, or only those listed as “High Need”?

    ​Eligible participants for the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship program are people who reside in an R3 and/or Environmental Justice area, regardless of whether they reside in an R3 "High Need Area". However, competitive applications will identify specific high-need areas in their region to target for recruitment, outreach, and training delivery. The R3 Map may be used to identify high-need areas. Applicants may also consider prioritizing areas that are both R3 and Environmental Justice areas. People who have been incarcerated or who are current or former members of the foster care system are also eligible to participate, regardless of whether they live in an equity investment-eligible community.

  31. The unions (building trades) have historically not been kind to the black community. How do we bring nontraditional candidates into the trades outside of union sponsorship?

    ​We appreciate your concern. In Illinois, the racial and gender disparities, and historical inequities in the construction/building trades (especially unionized trades) are well documented. This program attempts to address these disparities by preparing equity investment-eligible people to enter apprenticeship programs and by offering transition services to help people who enter these programs succeed. Applicants who are applying for funding to deliver the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program are encouraged to form partnerships with Registered Apprenticeship programs (either union or non-union) to facilitate placement in apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities. The participating apprenticeship programs need not be unionized, but they must be Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship programs. While apprenticeship placement is the primary outcome of the program, the secondary outcome is job placement or enrollment in a different training program. We encourage applicants to form relationships with both union and non-union employers and other clean energy training programs to help program participants successfully join the clean energy workforce.

  32. What is the funding structure for the prizes and are there protections in place for overlap?

    ​Both programs will utilize a performance-based payment model in which monthly payments to the organizations delivering the programs will be dispersed based on performance (number of enrollees, number of completions, number of people placed in jobs, etc.). The programs will not "share" participants to avoid double counting. More information about the performance-based payment model and any protections in place for overlap will be provided later.

  33. What level of capacity must my institution have at this time in order to be eligible to apply for Climate Works?

    The Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program is a large workforce program, with each regional Center receiving between $3 million and $6.5 million in funding to deliver the training program and support services for their proposed region(s). Using a program cost per participant estimate of $10,000, each Center will serve between 300 and 650 participants. To determine whether your organization has the capacity to deliver the program, please review the program requirements and eligibility requirements in the NOFO. Smaller, less experienced organizations are encouraged to team up with larger, more experienced partners to deliver this program.

  34. What level of detail is required on staffing from each sub-grantee of the program?

    ​Applicants should list all key staff--including subgrantee staff--that will be assigned to the project and include personnel costs for these staff.

  35. When is the submission deadline for this funding opportunity?

    ​Applications are due by 5:00pm CT on June 2, 2023.

  36. Where can I find resources for this funding opportunity?

    Access information on the background, program design, funding, submission details, information sessions, NOFO materials, and resources on the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship NOFO 2023 page.

  37. Will Illinois Works Reporting System (IWRS) be the main data reporting method? Will opportunities exist to upload data from systems such as Salesforce to IWRS or to produce alternate reports be allowable?

    ​Illinois Works Reporting System will be the main data reporting method.

  38. Will this grant program be offered next year as well?

    ​The grants are for a three-year cycle, with an initial period of performance of twelve months. The Department intends to offer up to two twelve-month renewals for each award based on the performance of the grantee. Additional funds of up to $16M may be available for each of the twelve-month renewal periods. DCEO expects to release another Notice of Funding Opportunity for this program every three years.

  39. Would a lead participant be able to change subgrantees or adjust goals among existing sub-grantees if the situation warranted such?

    Yes. There are avenues for adjusting goals/budgets and changing subgrantees if the situation warrants these changes.

  40. Youth vs. Adult Programs: Please define the age ranges for each category.

    Youth Programming: 16-24
    Adult Programming: 18+
    Applicants, who propose youth programming, may propose a narrower age range (such as a program in high school).