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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2023 and FY2024: Workplace Education Grant

Fund Codes: 494 495


FY23 Workplace Education Planning Grants (Phase 1) are competitive grants designed for partnerships among education providers, employer partners, and unions (where the workforce is unionized) to identify needs for instructional services for adult incumbent workers. In Phase 1, the partnership assesses the readiness of the business to support an educational program that meets the basic skill needs of its incumbent workers.

FY24 Workforce Education Implementation Grants (Phase 2) are competitive grants designed for partnerships among education providers, business partners, and unions (where the workforce is unionized) to implement an instructional program for adult incumbent workers.

Eligible incumbent workers must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Not be enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law, and
  • Not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and not have achieved an equivalent level of education; or are basic skills deficient; or are English language learners between SPL 0–6

Students under 18 must provide a letter of withdrawal from the local school district in order to enroll in the program. Students who are home schooled must provide a letter from the local school district stating that they are not enrolled.

Competitive priority will be given to districts and schools in chronically underperforming status.


Phase 1: Priority will be given to programs that:

  • Provide evidence of an employer and education provider partnership
  • Develop a plan and timeline to conduct a Workplace Needs Assessment (WNA)
  • Identify a lead person to direct the work of the WNA
  • Include a variety of perspectives through participation in the WNA
  • Integrate Adult Basic Education (ABE) and/or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) with industry skills training/work readiness to develop increased economic self-sufficiency and a more productive workforce
  • Provide evidence of outreach to local MassHire workforce partners in the local workforce area in which the business partner is located and demonstrate alignment with local Workforce Investment and Opportunity Agenda (WIOA) plans
  • Demonstrate past effectiveness in improving the English communication skills, literacy, and/or numeracy of eligible individuals by means of contextualizing curriculum and instruction
  • Ensure that participants progress through the National Reporting System (NRS) Educational Functioning Levels by offering scheduled educational activities of sufficient intensity and quality, which (a) use curriculum aligned to the Anchor Standards and level-specific standards of the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRSAE) or the standards and benchmarks of the Massachusetts English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education (MA MELPS), (b) are based on rigorous research, (c) include the essential components of reading, and (d) may include math instruction for English language learners, and, where possible, effectively use technology so that participants develop their digital literacy skills
  • Deliver activities supported by a solid organizational capacity (including providing equitable working conditions), highly qualified educational leaders, and well-trained instructors who have access to high quality professional development
  • Accelerate the attainment of student outcomes, especially educational functioning level (EFL) completion in the target skill area, and/or high school equivalency credential attainment
  • Engage in continuous improvement planning to enhance the quality of the services provided and determine that student and program outcomes have been met

Phase 2: Priorities are to support applicants that demonstrate:

  • A need for ABE and/or ESOL services
  • A commitment from each stakeholder in the partnership
  • Readiness of the partnership to develop, implement and evaluate a multi-year workplace education program through oversight and guidance from a Planning and Evaluation Team (PET)
  • Strategies for student class participation and retention, e.g., release time, paid stipends, remote and/or asynchronous learning, or additional measures to support student participation for attendance and retention
  • Evidence of alignment with the WIOA plan in the local workforce area(s) in which the business partner is located (where the instruction is to take place)

Phase 1: Eligible workplace education provider applicants may include, but are not limited to:

  • Local educational agencies
  • Community-based organizations or faith-based organizations
  • Volunteer literacy organizations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Public or private nonprofit agencies
  • Libraries
  • Public housing authorities
  • Nonprofit institutions that have the ability to provide adult education and literacy activities to eligible individuals
  • A consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, or authorities described previously in this section, and
  • A partnership between an employer and an entity described previously in this section.

Phase 2: Eligible applicants are those that were awarded a Phase 1 grant.

Funding Type:

FY23 Phase 1: Federal CFDA 84.002
FY24 Phase 2: Federal CFDA 84.002


FY23 Phase 1: Approximately $100,000 is available for up to 15 planning grants. Each grantee must conduct a WNA as part of the planning process.

FY24 Phase 2: Up to $500,000 is available for up to 15 implementation grants between $40,000 and $60,000.

  • Phase 1: Applicants may request up to $7,000 to conduct a WNA to determine the readiness of the partnership to support a multi-year instructional program for incumbent workers. The planning process must include a WNA as outlined in the fund use section.
  • Phase 2: Only those partnerships having been approved for Phase 1 are eligible for three-year implementation grants. Applicants may request up to $60,000 to implement an instructional program.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimates and subject to change. If more funding becomes available, it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

Phase 1: Funding must be used to conduct a WNA that includes a systematic analysis of the readiness of the partnership to deliver a quality instructional program. The plan must identify:

  • A lead person to convene and train the WNA team and coordinate WNA team activities
  • An inclusive process with input from prospective students, supervisors, managers, and unions (where the workforce is unionized) to determine needs and assets to support the instructional program
  • A preliminary assessment of the evidence of incumbent workers lacking the foundation skills of a high school graduate (e.g., reading, writing, and mathematics) and/or ESOL
  • A process to identify the current and future job-related basic skill needs e.g., reading, writing, math and/or English communication among the workforce
  • Ways to uncover the supports to worker participation in the educational program (i.e., survey, focus groups etc.)
  • Ways to uncover barriers to worker participation in the education program and a plan to address those (i.e., survey, focus groups etc.)
  • A projected timeline to accomplish the activities described above

Phase 2: Funding must be used to:

  • Deliver classroom and/or remote instruction in keeping with the approved program plan
  • Develop and document contextualized curriculum
  • Convene and maintain an ongoing and active PET that represents each interest group, e.g., management, supervisors, education staff, and union (where the workforce is unionized)
  • Implement NRS-required assessments
  • Develop and implement formative assessments
  • Maintain class enrollment retention
  • Collect and input student data into the statewide data management system.

For Phase 2, not less than 95 percent of funds must be spent on adult education direct services and literacy activities; as a result, not more than five percent of the funds may be spent on administrative costs. AEFLA defines administrative costs as allowable costs related to planning, administration (including carrying out performance accountability requirements), professional development, providing AE and literacy services in alignment with local workforce plans, carrying out one-stop partner responsibilities, and state approved IDC charged to the grant. (Note: Approved IDC is part of the grantee's administrative cost.)

AEFLA Sec. 233 states that professional development expenses are administrative expenses and part of the five percent limit. DESE has further defined administrative professional development expenses to include non-SABES registration fees and travel expenses including out of state travel. SABES trainings and the annual MCAE Network conference are defined by DESE as instructional expenses.

Grantees may negotiate with DESE on an individual basis to determine an adequate level of funds for non-instructional purposes by submitting a written request and rationale with their annual continuation applications. DESE will not grant administrative cost requests that exceed 25 percent of grant funds. Grantees must keep in mind that charges for IDC are included in the program's administrative costs.

When preparing budgets, grantees must keep in mind the specific line item costs that are included in the calculation of administrative costs are Lines 1, 3, 4 (as it relates to Lines 1 and 3), 9, and 10.

Programs may negotiate a higher administrative cost percentage by submitting a written request and rationale with the application.

Adult Education Services are restricted rate programs that are subject to a statutory "supplement, not supplant" restriction. Grantees are required to use a restricted indirect cost rate of 8% unless your calculated indirect cost rate is less than 8%. If the calculated indirect cost rate is less than 8%, you must use the lower rate for your budget. If you have an approved negotiated federal indirect cost rate, it must be submitted to ESE. If you do not have an approved indirect cost rate agreement, you must apply annually to ESE for an approved indirect cost rate. The indirect cost rate is calculated using costs specified in the grantee's indirect cost plan. Those specified costs may not be charged as direct costs to the grant or to any other grant under any circumstances.

Applicants are required to provide an auditable matching share of 20% of the total amount of the requested grant award.

Project Duration:

FY23 Phase 1: Upon approval through May 31, 2023

FY24 Phase 2: Upon approval through June 30, 2024

Phase 2 grants are conditionally renewable for FY25 and FY26, subject to satisfactory performance, the appropriation of federal funds, and the continuance of federal authoring legislation. The total grant award duration will not exceed three years (initial plus two renewals).

Bid Program Unit:

Adult and Community learning Services (ACLS)


Wayne Yee

All inquiries concerning Phase 1 applications must be submitted in writing to by Friday, February 3, 2023.

All inquiries concerning Phase 2 applications must be submitted in writing to by Friday, May 5, 2023. All answers will be posted to the ACLS website.

Bidders' Conference:

A Bidders' Conference will be held via Zoom on Tuesday January 31, 2023 from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

Join Zoom Meeting

Date Due:

FY23 Phase 1: Friday, February 17th, 2023.
FY24 Phase 2: Friday, May 26, 2023

Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on the date due.

All responses must be received by the due date listed above. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. Responses not received on time will not be reviewed. Applicants applying after the due date may be notified their application was received late and will not be reviewed. Applications must be submitted as directed in the Submissions Instructions below. Failure to do so may result in disqualification. If you need assistance with submitting your application, please reach out to the contact person listed on this funding opportunity.

Required Forms:

Phase 1 — Due Friday, February 17, 2023:

Phase 2 — Due Friday, May 26, 2023:

Additional Information:
Submission Instructions:

FY23 Phase 1: Application Packages must be in PDF format and submitted on WizeHive (Phase 1 link) with required elements in the following sequence:

  • Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)
  • Part II — Budget Document:
    • Budget Narrative
  • Part III — Required Program Information
  • Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to conduct a WNA
  • (No Match is required for Phase 1)

FY24 Phase 2: Application Packages must be in PDF format and submitted on WizeHive (Phase 2 link) with required elements in the following sequence:

  • Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)
  • Part II — Budget Documents:
    • Budget Narrative
    • Match Narrative
  • Part III — Required Program Information
  • MOA for Phase 2 Implementation
  • FY 2024 – 2028 Workplace Education Statement of Assurances
  • General Education Protection Act (GEPA) form
  • Administrative Cost Justification Form (if needed)

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter all required forms in EdGrants in addition to the following based on applicant type:


If the Administrative Cost Justification Form is needed, this must be uploaded to EdGrants as well. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Note that instructional offerings should be accurately captured in LACES, the state's adult education data system.

State Agencies with ISAs: Waiver filed with ANF to reduce the amount of indirect charged to these grant funds in MMARS. It is the responsibility of the applying entity that is a state agency to file an indirect waiver request with ANF and send a copy of the approved request to CTR. DESE cannot request indirect waivers on behalf of state agencies. (See Fund Use section for more info; See Additional Information for Colleges/State Agencies section for the ANF Waiver Request Form)

Additional Information for Colleges / State Agencies: The information below is intended for state entities that require ISAs as part of their grant award process. Not intended for Private or Community Based Organizations.

Pagination Directions: Applicants are required to provide page numbers on every page of the proposal, including material not subject to the page limits. All narrative responses must be in Arial 10 point font, with 1" margins. Narrative responses may not exceed 6 pages. Additionally, non-required documents and narrative pages that exceed 6 pages will not be read.

Last Updated: April 12, 2023

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