Illinois Talent Pipeline RFA

Request for Applications

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Department of Commerce) seeks workforce projects that connect talent strategies with business needs.  This is the logical next step as we expand the implementation of the Illinois Pathways model and is based on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation call to action, “Managing the Talent Pipeline: A New Approach to Closing the Skills Gap.”

As the economic and workforce development agency in Illinois, Department of Commerce is a national leader in developing employer-driven training solutions that meet the needs of businesses and job seekers.  Through our Office of Employment and Training, Department of Commerce leverages Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) dollars to fund solutions not only for business, but also for local workforce areas, industry associations, economic development entities, and community colleges to create sector-based models and develop career pathways for job seekers including the long-term unemployed, veterans, people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth. 

The complete program guidelines are available from this page. The deadline to be considered for a Program Year 2016 grant is May 15, 2017

Program Goal

Department of Commerce will award grants for demonstration projects providing Rapid Response services to businesses and workers impacted or at risk of being impacted by company closures or layoffs.  The goal of this program is to help businesses avoid layoffs where possible and help unemployed workers re-enter the workforce.  Grantees will facilitate or provide skill upgrade training to WIOA eligible dislocated workers or incumbent workers at-risk of dislocation as a layoff aversion strategy.  The State of Illinois considers a layoff averted when:

  • A worker’s job is saved with an existing employer that is at-risk of downsizing or closing; or
  • A worker at-risk of dislocation transitions to a different job with the same employer or to a new job with a different employer and experiences no, or minimal, unemployment.

By emphasizing the strategy of Incumbent Worker training for at-risk workers, Department of Commerce is seeking training projects for existing employees who are at-risk of losing their jobs unless they obtain skill upgrades, or to provide training to unemployed individuals who required employer specific training upon being hired or classroom based skill upgrades to be qualified to be hired.

Program Design

This program is part of the State’s layoff aversion strategy.  Department of Commerce may fund projects that specifically identify employers that serve WIOA eligible dislocated workers from layoff events; projects for recently separated veterans; projects that connect employers and WIOA eligible dislocated workers with short-term, on-the-job and customized training programs; and registered apprenticeships before or after layoff and prior to new employment.  This RFA will also fund incumbent worker projects to assist with training existing employees who are at-risk of being laid off without the training.

Training projects must provide workers with new skills to retain their existing job or quickly transition to a new one and maintain financial stability.  The value for employers is remaining competitive in the global economy and saving operational, overhead and productivity costs by training current, reliable employees rather than going through the process of replacing them.

Department of Commerce RFA Contact for questions about this RFA:

Lorraine Wareham
500 East Monroe Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Phone: 217.558.2454

Eligible Costs

The Department of Commerce - Office of Employment and Training (OET) will provide up to $3-5 Million in Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act funds to support Illinois Talent Pipeline demonstration projects.  The estimated maximum award will be $500,000 per project.  Grant funds may be used for:

  • On-the-Job Training for unemployed workers;
  • Registered Apprenticeships for unemployed and existing workers;
  • Class Size Training for unemployed workers;
  • Customized Training for unemployed workers; and
  • Incumbent Worker Training for existing workers.

Eligible Applicants

Department of Commerce will accept proposals from Local Workforce Boards or their designated entities, private sector for-profit and non-profit employers, educational institutions, and private sector for-profit and non-profit training providers or other entities, such as sector employer associations, with the ability to engage employers to facilitate training placements.


  • State PY 2016 Illinois Talent Pipeline REQUEST FOR APPLICATION (PDF)
  • State PY 2016 Illinois Talent Pipeline FUNDING APPLICATION (MS Word)
  • Attachment A – Department of Commerce Office of Employment & Training At-Risk Documentation (MS Word)
  • MOU Example Company and School (MS Word)
  • MOU Example Training Program (MS Word)
  • Quick Facts – On-the-Job Training Flyer (PDF)
  • Quick Facts – Registered Apprenticeship Flyer (PDF)
  • Quick Facts – Customized Training Flyer (PDF)
  • Quick Facts – Incumbent Worker Training Flyer (PDF)

RFA Webinar

FAQ from Previous RFA