Workforce Development Initiative

Investing $175 million for workforce development

The Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) was inaugurated in 2019 with a mission to invest $175 million throughout New York State for innovative, creative, and regionally customized workforce development projects. Awards under this Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, address long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities. In the first round of WDI funding, over $70 million was awarded to 225 organizations to support regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs -- including clean energy, life sciences, computer science, and advanced technologies -- as well as efforts to improve the economic security of women, young workers, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. Funding supports critical job training and employment opportunities in high-demand industries for over 51,000 New Yorkers across the State.

Applications Are Now Being Accepted

Update: The SUNY and CUNY Future of Work Center Program Deadline has been extended to October 15, 2021.

In this second call for applications, the WDI will bring together the resources, plans, and perspectives of multiple state agencies and authorities, the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), non-profit training providers, and private sector employers to further New York’s goal to build back stronger as we emerge from the challenges of the past 18 months.

Applications that are targeted to the zones designated under the Governor’s Gun Violence Prevention Initiative and that incorporate strategies designed to engage young at-risk New Yorkers in these areas with opportunities that will realize their potential and cultivate skills in high-demand, good-paying jobs will be awarded additional points in agency scoring. To view Gun Violence hot spot maps click here.

About the Consolidated Funding Application

The NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) was developed to streamline and expedite the application process for economic development grants. The CFA process fundamentally shifts the way state resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy, greater efficiency, and more community input in fulfilling local economic development needs.

Similarly, with the WDI CFA serving as the single point of entry for workforce development funding, applicants will no longer have to navigate separately with each of the multiple agencies and authorities that provide funds for this initiative. Instead, potential partners in workforce development will be able to participate in one centralized CFA process to access multiple state funding sources through one application, making the process quicker, easier, and more productive.

About the Regional Economic Development Councils

The ten Regional Economic Development Councils were established in 2011 to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. As part of their mission, each REDC worked with supporting organizations and private sector partners to develop their region’s economic development strategic plan, which includes a plan to address the workforce development needs of the region. The REDCs have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth through the formation of a community-based, bottom-up approach designed to meet the needs of each region and have established a competitive process for each region to pursue state resources.

Made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, non-governmental organizations, and the New York State Senate and Assembly, the REDCs are public-private partnerships supported by various state agencies serving each region. Many state legislators and local elected officials serve on the REDCs, providing critical information to help form regional strategies, identifying investment priorities, and encouraging participation in the CFA.

2021 Guidebook

Download the 2021 Workforce Development Initiative Guidebook to learn more about the initiative.

Program Guidelines

Download the Program Guidelines to learn more about the initiative and application process.


View WDI Webinars to learn more about available funding streams, including allowable costs, activities, and outcomes.

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