Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI)?

The WDI is a comprehensive workforce development program that, among other things, utilizes the state’s successful Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to invest in workforce development projects in each region that conform to the strategic plans for each REDC. 

What is the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA)?

The CFA is a modern and easy-to-use online application for accessing state resources currently available from multiple New York State agencies and authorities. The CFA serves as the single point of entry for workforce development funding for the state.

Where do I find the REDC strategic plans?

Each REDC has a strategic plan that can be found here. Also, Local Workforce Development Boards submit annual regional workforce plans for each REDC which can be found here.

What agencies offer funding through the WDI CFA?

Four agencies -- Empire State Development, NYS Department of Labor, State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) -- have made workforce development funding available through the CFA process. In addition, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will also be making workforce development funding available through a separate application process. When projects are awarded, those agencies with jurisdiction over the funds will administer the project.

Where can an applicant find guidance on applying for specific funding programs?

The 2021 WDI Program Guidebook outlines the available funding and application process. The 2021 WDI Program Guidelines provides applicants with additional information about the application as well as programmatic detail for each resource that is part of the CFA process. There are also recorded webinars on the WDI website describing the programs and their eligibility requirements.

Who is eligible to apply?

A variety of projects will be accepted into the program. Each potential source of funds within the CFA has specific criteria. Eligible applicants include educational institutions, private employers, employer consortia, non-profit organizations with a substantial workforce mission, public-private partnerships, and training providers. A list of WDI funding awardees to date can be found in the 2021 WDI Program Guidebook and on the WDI website

For what purposes may Workforce Development Initiative funds be used?

The WDI will provide an opportunity for a range of workforce development projects and activities to be funded. Projects exhibiting significant impact and creating effective workforce solutions for a region will be given priority. The process and variety of funding sources will allow for a flexible use of the funds. Projects that leverage other public and private funds will get priority consideration. 

Examples of potential uses of funds include:

  • Workforce attraction;
  • Support for company-based projects;
  • Formation of multiple employer consortia – especially in a common sector or industry cluster - that can benefit from shared training and other workforce development activities;
  • Direct support of companies in industry sectors targeted by the REDC;
  • Funds to support workforce development and innovation in college and university settings;
  • Creation of opportunities for populations which traditionally face barriers to career advancement, including women and young workers, ex-offenders, veterans, immigrants, refugees, and persons with special needs;
  • Projects addressing worker dislocation due to foreign competition;
  • Projects addressing the opportunities and challenges posed by automation, artificial intelligence and robotics;
  • Fees charged by approved training providers;
  • Educational activities that are part of job training and workforce preparation initiatives, particularly when focused on key local economic sectors;
  • Research on workforce needs, including employer surveys and market studies;
  • Development and operation of programs that award recognized credentials to program graduates (e.g., apprenticeships, certifications, etc.); and
  • Curriculum development for career- or job-specific purposes.
What project types are ineligible?

Generally excluded uses of funds include:

  • Broad-based public infrastructure, as distinguished from infrastructure needed to support an otherwise eligible project;
  • Speculative real estate development;
  • Buy-outs and roll-ups;
  • Establishment or development of retail and personal service businesses;
  • Establishment or development of gaming businesses engaged in gaming activities as defined in paragraph 5 of section 101 of the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law; and
  • Support for general education unless it is related to a workforce development initiative.
What are the three categories of programs and how do they differ? May a project draw on more than one category?

The Public-Private Partnerships at to Advance 21st Century Skills programs will support capital and soft costs at SUNY/CUNY campuses to make their programming more supportive of regional employer needs.

The Employer Driven Skills programs are aimed directly at employer needs, for both new and existing workers.

The Workforce Solutions programs are aimed at building regional workforce ecosystems, with a focus on collaboration and deep industry engagement.

It is anticipated that most projects will fit into just one category. However, an exceptional, broad-based project that crosses multiple categories would be considered.

What happens to the application once it is submitted?

Once the CFA is submitted by the applicant, it is reviewed and scored by the appropriate State agency to determine potential eligibility for the funds and overall program fit. Additionally, the REDCs will play a critical role in reviewing applications for regional fit and potential for job placement. If both the REDC and the agency determine that a project is eligible for funding, the application is sent to the interagency review team to evaluate, and then make the final approvals based on the criteria listed in the WDI guidelines. The interagency review team will include representatives from any relevant agencies, including, at a minimum, representatives from Empire State Development, NYS Department of Labor, SUNY/CUNY, and NYSERDA.

What types of projects will be funded?

Successful applications for workforce investments will support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses' short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, expand apprenticeships and other credentials, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries—with a focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health technology, and computer science.

Funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, young workers, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. As described above, proposals must contain defined performance measures, project outcomes, a comprehensive implementation strategy, and demonstrate stakeholder alignment.

What is the timeline for project awards?

The CFA portal will be open and ready to accept applications on a continual basis beginning on July 1, 2021. Review will begin immediately and continue until the conclusion of the program. Certain funding sources have application deadlines. Please consult the 2021 Program Guidelines for those application deadlines.