Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship NOFO 2023

​This funding opportunity has closed. Visit the Funding Opportunities page to learn about current opportunities.​


This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) sets forth the requirements for funding pre-apprenticeship programs as specified by the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act ("Illinois Works Act"), 30 ILCS 559/20-1.  It is in the public policy interest of the State of Illinois (the "State") to ensure that all Illinois residents have access to State capital projects and careers in the construction industry and building trades, including those who have been historically underrepresented in those trades. To ensure that those interests are met, the General Assembly created the Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship Program, the Illinois Works Apprenticeship Initiative, and the Illinois Bid Credit Program. 

The goal of the Illinois Works Act is to ensure that all Illinois residents have access to State capital projects and careers in the construction industry and building trades, as well as provide contracting and employment opportunities to historically underrepresented populations in the construction industry and the trades. The Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship NOFO and program is a critical component in the success of the Act, by increasing the number of qualified construction and building trades apprentices who are women, people of color, veterans or from otherwise underrepresented populations and preparing them to enter full apprenticeship programs on their way to careers in the construction and building trades. 

In 2022, DCEO through the Office of Illinois Works awarded roughly $12 million to 29 programs in six DCEO regions to deliver pre-apprenticeship programs. Together, these programs are slated to serve over 1,300 Illinois residents. The 2023 NOFO opportunity's goal is to expand the network of providers by providing up to 20 additional awards and funding up to $10 million. 

Funding is open to all DCEO regions; however, community-based organizations from the following regions are highly encouraged to apply: 

  • Central Region (Region 1) - Sangamon County 
  • North Central Region (Region 3) – Peoria County, McClean County 
  • Northeast Region (Region 4) – DeKalb County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kankakee County, Kendall County, McHenry County, Suburban Cook County, Will County 
  • Northwest Region (Region 6) – LaSalle County, Rock Island County, Whiteside County 
  • Southern Region (Region 8) – Jackson County 

ILW is also seeking to increase recruitment, training, and transition for populations that are currently underserved specifically Veterans, Asian Americans, and Women, among others. 

Read the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's (DCEO) press release about this funding opportunity.

Governor Pritzker Announces $10 Million for Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Program Design

The Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship grants will be awarded to community-based organizations that demonstrate a plan to implement a pre-apprenticeship program rooted in national best practices and program design elements and meet Illinois Works program requirements and standards.

The Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship Program is a semi-structured program that provides grantees with flexibility in critical areas such as recruitment, instruction, transition, delivery of support services, partnership development, and more. Projects that are funded under the Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship Program must include sixteen program elements and are encouraged to incorporate national best practices.

All program requirements are outlined in the NOFO and in the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program 2023 Grantee Manual.

As defined by the Illinois Works Program Act a "community-based organization" is a nonprofit organization, including an accredited public college or university. To qualify as a "community-based organization", the organization must demonstrate the following:

  • the ability to effectively serve diverse and underrepresented populations, including by providing employment services to such populations;
  • knowledge of the construction and building trades;
  • the ability to recruit, prescreen, and provide pre-apprenticeship training to prepare workers for employment in the construction and building trades; and

a plan to provide the following:

  • preparatory classes;
  • workplace readiness skills, such as resume preparation and interviewing techniques;
  • strategies for overcoming barriers to entry and completion of an apprenticeship program;
  • any prerequisites for acceptance into apprenticeship program.

Refer to the NOFO for detailed information regarding program design, outcomes, and requirements.

Funding Information

This grant program is utilizing state funding appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly under the Illinois Works Act.  It is anticipated that the Department will award up to $10 million for grants under this NOFO and that each individual grant should range between $55,000 to $550,000 depending on the number of cohorts the program proposes to deliver for one year.  The Department will consider grant requests for less or more of the above-mentioned range when adequate technical arguments and reasonable outcomes are presented. Allowable costs must be necessary, reasonable, and allocable based on the activity or activities contained in the scope of work.

Anticipated Number of Grants: up to 20

Funding Range: $55,000 to $550,000

Anticipated Total Award: up to $10 million

Anticipated Grant Start Date: January 1, 2024

Submission Details


Applicants must submit a project narrative that answers the questions for the Pre-apprenticeship Program grant as outlined in the NOFO and required attachments. The project narrative must include enough information for the Department to understand the scope of the project. Application Link.

Due date for application materials is Wednesday, August 30, 2023 by 5:00 pm CST.

For detailed information about the funding opportunity and instruction on how to apply, see the full NOFO, as well as required documents, linked under NOFO Materials. 

Notice of Intent to Apply

Applicants are encouraged, but not required to submit a notice of intent to apply. This letter should contain the applicant’s organization name, geographic location, population planning to serve, organization contact name, email, and phone number and the proposed funding request. Intent letters should be submitted by August 9, 2023 by 5:00 pm CST. 

These letters will help the Department determine merit reviewer needs.

Award Timeline

Applications are due by August 30, 2023 at 5:00pm CST.

Information Sessions
​For comments, feedback, or questions email the Office of Illinois Works at

​Tuesday, July 25, 2023
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Introduction to Illinois Works & Its Programs
​Tuesday, August 1, 2023
​9:30 am - 10:30 am
​GATA Training for New State Applicants
​Thursday, August 3, 2023
​9:30 am - 12:30 pm
​Bidder's Conference
​Thursday, August 15, 2023
​9:30 am - 11:30 am
​Illinois Works Performance-based Payment Model
​Tuesday, August 22, 2023
​9:30 am - 12:30 pm
​Developing Partnerships


NOFO Materials


NOFO References

Resources for Competitive Applications

Resources on National Best Practices for Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs

Resources on National Best Practices for Equity Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs