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Shenandoah Valley Workforce Board awarded economic equity grant

Photo Credit: niroworld

The Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board was recently awarded a $500,000 Workforce Services Expansion to Increase Economic Equity grant from the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

The grant funding will target out-of-work populations as identified in the 2018 Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service study Who is Out of Work in Virginia.   SVWDB will partner with the Piedmont Workforce Development Board (PWDB) on the program, with the SVWDB serving as the lead agency, grant project manager, and fiscal agent.

The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service study found that 650,000 Virginians, ages 16-64 are out-of-work; of which 168,000 are unemployed (26%) and 482,000 (74%) are not in the labor force. It also isolated six workforce clusters to help guide local workforce regions in prioritizing what specialized populations need the most extensive services. Approximately 66,000 out-of-work residents in the Blue Ridge Cluster, which falls within the SVWDB and PWDB service regions, were characterized as younger (25 – 34 years), less educated, or having some disability with roughly 40% living in poverty.

The SVWDB/PWDB partnership intends to use the grant funding to assist these out-of-work populations by:

  • building collaboration infrastructure collaboration to expand workforce services;
  • leveraging innovative programs such as PluggedInVA, a career pathways program that provides motivated adult learners with a contextualized General Educational Development (GED®) curriculum that is integrated with industry-specific technical training as a means to develop essential workplace skills for entry-level jobs in targeted industries;
  • identifying and developing community peer networks;
  • establishing communication with community support organizations;
  • partnering with the Department of Social Services to co-enroll individuals needing social benefits and workforce preparation services; and
  • Expanding outreach using established social media platforms.

The evaluation of grant applications was conducted by staff from the Virginia Community College System, Department of Education, Department of Social Services, and the Governor’s Office.

For more information on the award and implementation of this grant, contact Joan Hollen, 540.442.7134,

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press