New Grant Funding Available to Help States Advance Digital Skill Development

The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices announced today the second phase of grant funding and technical assistance available to states via the Workforce Innovation Network. NGA WIN will provide financial support and technical assistance for assistance for a cohort of competitively selected states to advance digital skill development for equitable economic participation in alignment with state workforce and economic development goals.

States are invited to apply for this second round of grant funding from NGA WIN to advance digital inclusion and foster equitable economic participation. The NGA Center will engage staff and subject-matter experts to deliver customized technical assistance to selected state grantees beginning in November 2021.

Founded in January with support from the Cognizant Foundation, NGA WIN is a nonpartisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders committed to building an inclusive and resilient workforce and leading an equitable post-pandemic recovery. In March, 10 states were awarded up to $100,000 and customized technical assistance to improve employment outcomes in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19 by connecting job seekers to training, education, job opportunities and essential support services.

“The first cohort of state grantees demonstrated success in building and implementing workforce strategies that offer displaced workers the tools they need to succeed. Building off the success of this round, NGA is launching a second round of grants to help Governors identify and close digital skill gaps needed for the evolving workforce,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center. “States play an essential role in improving access to the digital skills that help businesses thrive. We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of states.”

COVID-19 accelerated longstanding trends in the workplace toward digital transformation, underscoring the need for forward-looking, collaborative initiatives like the Workforce Innovation Network. According to research by the National Skills Coalition – one of more than 20 members of the network – nearly one in three U.S. workers ages 16-64 have few or no digital skills, and at least 38 percent of those workers are employed in jobs that require moderate or advanced computer usage. 

In July, NGA announced that NGA WIN had secured additional partnerships with Microsoft, Intel and Western Governors University to expand the network, including future grantmaking and technical assistance. An example of the technical assistance that will be provided to states with support from these new partnerships is consultation with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance on applying its new Digital Equity Scorecard as states develop their action plans. The scorecard provides states with timely and relevant information about digital equity efforts in progress, including broadband expansion, online digital skills training, and tracking of data to assess digital skills among a state’s population.

NGA invites interested states to apply for these grants by Oct. 12. Interested states are invited to register for a webinar Sept. 20 to learn more about the grant application and activities throughout the grant period. All states and territories that apply will be eligible to participate in select peer-learning activities throughout the grant period, which concludes in June 2022.

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