Some requests for information in the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Request for Proposals (RFP) require several months to properly assemble. Activities include establishing partnerships, conducting labor market and community assessments, developing relationships with employers, and establishing leveraging opportunities.
Establishing partnerships is a key component of a successful grant proposal. Examples of important partnerships include the organizations and individuals listed below. Note that many of these partners will also provide letters of support as part of the grant application.
State and regional agencies, Emergency Planning Districts, Departments of Environmental Quality, Department of Labor, Department of Health, local and regional economic and/or community development departments, and Workforce Development and/or Workforce Investment Boards (WIB).
Area Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup grant recipients (past and/or current).
Other local nonprofit, nongovernmental, and quasi-governmental organizations which will commit to in-kind partnerships for assistance with outreach; recruitment, screening, and life skills including job readiness training; placement; and tracking.
Potential employers and labor organizations.
Government agencies who may employ program graduates.
CONDUCT COMMUNITY AND LABOR MARKET ASSESSMENTS
Understand the community. Community and labor market assessments provide insight regarding the need for establishing an EWDJT program. Labor market assessments guide curriculum development activities, and ensure that there are placement opportunities for program graduates.
Community assessments validate the need and justification for an environmental training program in the targeted community. These assessments assist in developing local partnerships and recruiting students.
Applicants often find published data to support their community assessment. These data are not sufficient for a good proposal. Applicants need to establish contact with community leaders and organizations. Specific, current, and hands-on information from the community needs to be presented.
DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS WITH EMPLOYERS
Developing relationships with employers is essential as the EWDJT program matures. But it is also necessary in the proposal development stage. Employers should be asked to consider becoming a partner and prospective employer, and to contribute a letter of support. They may serve on the advisory board and be included as part of the application development process. Relationships like these take time to nurture and require face-to-face interaction. They also need to be established before proposal writing begins.
ESTABLISHING LEVERAGING OPPORTUNITIES
EWDJT funding is limited to specific environmental training as presented in the RFP. Since supplemental training and student support are not supported by the EWDJT grant, every program requires leveraging.
Partnership leveraging can support the activities listed below. While many of the activities are eligible for EWDJT funds, they are often available from other community services on a leveraged basis.
Life skills training.
Student support, counseling, and transportation.
Training facilities and equipment.
Recruitment, student assessment, and health screening.
Placement services, tracking, and employer relations.
In-kind administrative and training support.
Financial assistance, stipends, and scholarships.
Associated training such as construction skills.
Leveraging sources and resources need to be in place before the grant proposal is written, as it is an essential part of the review process.
GRANT WRITING ISSUES TO CONSIDER
Below are comments from reviewers that have caused past applicants to lose points on their submitted applications. Simple omissions and lack of understanding “requests for information” are principle causes of unfunded proposals.
Proposal is difficult to comprehend.
Applicant did not follow guidelines.
Applicant did not respond to criteria in sequence.
Applicant’s response to subcategories was not on point, incomplete, or unclear.
Did not discuss specific environmental concerns as a result of the presence of Brownfields in the community.
Environmental, social, and economic issues not linked to impact of the presence of Brownfields in targeted area.
Demographic statistics are provided but no contrasting data (from state, county, city, or national statistics) to show need.
Demographic statistics are provided but ineffective and are not drastically indicative of need.
Sensitive population is not discussed.
No discussion of specific population to be trained.
No discussion regarding outreach/recruitment to target specific populations (e.g., unemployed, underemployed, ex-offenders, etc.) with justified need for training (unemployment statistics).
Missing direct coordination with local employers.
No employer survey is evidenced.
Section does not refer to any direct surveys or polling of local employers.
Job data by employment type, sector, and concentration from table—earlier years may not be current and relevant to year of application.
Student health and safety issues were not addressed specifically in proposal.
Training cycles unclear.
Need more specifics on facility’s health and safety procedures.
Training and recruitment numbers are low in comparison with projected placement rate. (Focus should not be on training, but rather on job placement.)
Proposal does not seem to have a targeted placement goal.
Letters of Support do not state roles and/or commitments—only support.
Licensing/certificate fees, PPE, and incidental student expenses should be more detailed and specific.
No cost to student is stronger competitive edge. Also, collected fees will be considered programmatic income and must be discussed as such. Better for applicant if cost of tuition includes ancillary fees.
Costs are not explained as to whether costs exist and what is covered or not covered by EPA funds.
No discussion of in-kind commitments with assigned monetary value.
Physicals or vision screening associated with CDLs or equipment operations are not discussed in detail, only mentioned. Again, better if fees for such screening are included in cost of training and not passed on to student.
Screening requirements not discussed.
Need to test for minimum grade and skill level. (Generally 8th grade language and math skills are required for most programs. Partner with the WIBs.)
No mention of drug testing in screening process or required minimum educational background prerequisites.
No explanation regarding fees and if students will be burdened with paying them.
Employers’ commitment to hire is not discussed and no letters of support from employers (although a few were listed).
No discussion regarding projected placement target.
Hiring incentives not discussed.
Applicant’s experience with delivery of training is vague and unclear. More detail is required on experience in training delivery.
Applicant lists some community organizations, but grassroots/neighborhood, labor, fraternal, public health, and medical community organizations are not represented.
Must have community partners. Ensure that ALL partners receive a copy of proposal and a letter of support with project support, project role, and commitment stated. Include in proposal.
Applicant failed to discuss in detail delivery of life skills and other non-environmental training (what partner will provide, where training will take place, how training will be funded since EPA funds cannot be used).
Community involvement and notification regarding proposed job training project is not discussed in detail.
No discussion of public meetings, attendance records, and community roles in the development and composition of the job training proposal.
Fringe benefit cost is high.
Mileage costs are stated but without substantive detail. More is needed to justify mileage costs.
Personnel costs are too high.
Travel to Brownfields and job training conferences not included.
Overall training number is too low and no placement targets are provided.
Budget numbers do not add up.
Applicant made no distinction between EPA funds and non-EPA funds.
Very little leveraging with no discussion of plans as to how applicant will generate additional funding.
No value given to in-kind commitments and no letters of support to substantiate claim for in-kind commitments.
No discussion of social and public health issues.
No discussion of specific population to be trained.
Environmental justice issues are not discussed.
Demographic data is provided but it is sporadic and not cohesive.
Applicant failed to link labor market assessment to curriculum.
Certifications are discussed but no breakdown as to what certifications are programmatic, state, or federal. Need breakdown.
No milestone and timeline chart provided.
Outputs and outcomes not clear and do not easily link back to proposed work plan.
No discussion regarding retention and attrition.
Applicant failed to discuss handling of retention and attrition though case management.
No discussion regarding training facilities, especially access to facilities and transportation options.
Applicant did not address tracking program graduates.
Program sustainability after grant ends not discussed.
Leveraging not addressed.