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Workforce Innovation Grant Program

As the state recovers from the COVID-10 pandemic and the economic crisis it caused, DWD is committed to revitalizing regional economies. Just as Wisconsin’s economy differs regionally, so do the workforce challenges and appropriate solutions.

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program makes up to $10 million per grantee available to regional organizations to design and implement innovative plans to tackle their region’s most pressing workforce challenges that arose during or were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will focus on this important aspect of the pandemic’s lasting impact on our economy by encouraging affected regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions so businesses can find workers, and workers can prepare for and connect to better, higher quality and more family-sustaining jobs.

A particular region whose workers were impeded from workforce participation during the pandemic because their area lacked reliable childcare could develop a solution to address its childcare desert. Another community that had workforce disruptions during the pandemic due to insufficient transportation options could develop a solution to provide reliable transportation to connect available workers with open jobs. A local industry trade group might develop a proposal to invest in and develop registered apprenticeship training opportunities as a strategy to attract or retain talent to businesses finding it difficult to recruit in the aftermath of the pandemic, while a rural municipality may propose a broadband solution to the challenges presented by the pandemic’s necessity of increased remote work.

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program will reward creativity, promote sustainable regional collaboration, and foster local accountability and participation to address workforce challenges resulting from an extended period of labor disruption.


  • Program announcement: July 13, 2021
  • Grant Release 1 - 2021
    • Notice of Grant Application: September 2021
    • Application Deadline: October 25, 2021
    • Award: December 2021
  • Grant Release 2: 2022
    • Notice of Grant Application: February 22, 2022
    • Application Deadline: April 18, 2022
    • Award: Early Summer

Applicant Eligibility

Non-profit or public body


Support implementation of collaborative, sustainable, and innovative plans to tackle a region’s most pressing workforce challenges created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of Funds

Winning proposals will identify the region’s most pressing pandemic-related challenges, and offer solutions through a myriad of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Training and/or reskilling initiatives for in-demand jobs
  • Transit solutions or broadband
  • Planning
  • Marketing
  • Childcare solutions or supportive services
  • Career Counseling or Coaching
  • Piloting or implementing replicable/sustainable ideas/best practices

Funded programs will need to present solutions that are reasonably related and proportional to the pandemic related impact.

Grant Range Amount

Up to $10 million