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WIB says agencies will seek grants

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board (WIB) expects agencies will join forces to seek $250,000 for employment services for dislocated veterans in this region.

The Virginia Community College System has announced the availability of up to $1.25 million of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Rapid Response Assistance funds to train veterans for high-wage, high-growth occupations, according to a request for proposal (RFP).

The maximum grant that can be awarded is $250,000, according to the RFP.

Eligible to apply are regional partnerships involving such entities as public and private nonprofit organizations, local Workforce Investment Boards, education and training providers and faith-based/community-based organizations.

“Right now, community colleges and the (West Piedmont WIB) are looking into how best to leverage those funds for this area,” said Kim Adkins, executive director of the WIB and Martinsville’s mayor. The region includes Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania counties; Martinsville; and Danville.

“I think it’s extremely positive the governor sees the value of offering resources for our veterans to go back to school or to incentivize employers to encourage hiring veterans. This region isn’t going to let those resources pass us by. We’re going to position to garner $250,000 ... (to) give veterans more options for sustainable employment,” she added.

Adkins said the federal Rapid Response money comes in through the Workforce Investment Act that the governor has designated for this training initiative for veterans.

As of Sept. 30, there were 18,747 veterans in the region, including a total of 6,318 in Henry County and Martinsville and 1,819 in Patrick County, Adkins said.

According to the request for proposal, the focus is on recently separated veterans (within 48 months), but other veterans will be considered if they are in at least one of these other priority groups:

• Service-connected disabled veterans.

• Campaign veterans (served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which campaign badges or medals were authorized).

• Veterans with significant barriers that hinder a person’s hiring, promotion or participation in the labor force. Some examples are single parents; displaced homemakers; youths; public assistance recipients; older workers; substance abusers; teenage parents; ethnic minorities; those with limited English speaking ability, a criminal record or mental health barriers; or those with a lack of education, work experience, credentials, child care arrangements or transportation.

• Eligible veterans’ spouses.

Adkins said the Rapid Response money could be used for such things as education and training leading to occupations identified as high growth and currently in demand. This region’s WIB identified three sectors: advanced manufacturing, health care and high technology, she said.

The Rapid Response money also could be used for such things as internships to help subsidize on-the-job training; mileage to and from training or while on the job for the first three months; tools; uniforms; and child care, she said.

If this region were to qualify for $250,000, Adkins said, after deducting the required 5 percent to administer the funds, about $237,500 would be left. Of that, she estimates that $106,875 would be available for services in Martinsville and Henry and Patrick counties.

Local policy is that up to $5,000 can be funded per participant, which would mean that 21 people could be served in the three localities, she said.

But, she added, “I think we will be able to serve more (people)” because the Rapid Response money could be used to leverage other funds.

Proposals are due Dec. 19, award announcements will be made Jan. 14, and the start date is Feb. 1, Adkins said.


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