Release date: February 2015 - Grant proposals are accepted on an ongoing basis.
The Rapides Foundation leadership has viewed its Mission to “improve the health status of Central Louisiana” in a comprehensive and holistic manner, supporting investments in many focus areas. In 2008, the Foundation undertook a comprehensive Economic Development Initiative designed to address several major economic challenges facing Central Louisiana, including:
- A limited base of industries in the technology and Research & Development areas
- Less opportunity to develop a skilled workforce
- A lag in business start-ups and expansions
The Foundation believes that lower and middle household income levels must rise for the standard of living to increase for all income levels. For this reason, The Rapides Foundation’s Economic Development Initiative focuses on median household income to gauge impact over time rather than average household income. The reasoning for this is that it is possible that an increase in average income could result from large increases in upper level incomes with no increase or even decline in lower level incomes. In situations where the numbers can be skewed, the median gives us a more representative picture of what is happening at all levels. Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below.
The Economic Development Initiative concentrates on systemic, structural and cultural changes within the Cenla economy that will require a long-term perspective and a sustained effort. The Initiative’s grantmaking strategy revolves around key elements that govern Cenla’s capacity to support a more dynamic, higher value-added economy linked to national and international markets. One component of the Initiative is to improve the region’s opportunities for workforce skills and development training.
The Economic Development/Workforce Opportunity Grant provides an opportunity to provide educational, training or certification support to qualified candidates for immediate high-wage job opportunities in The Rapides Foundation nine-parish service area. (Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn Parishes.)
Applicants are encouraged to build strong partnerships between post-secondary institutions, the workforce system, employers and industry groups, to transform the way they design and deliver courses through accelerated learning strategies, redesigned curricula, distance learning, work-based training, and innovative uses of technology to enhance learning activities. This solicitation promotes these strategies.
Partners should assume the following roles/responsibilities:
- Employer(s): Identify qualifications, compensation and quantity of essential open jobs.
- Employee candidate(s): Commit to training and accepting offered employment in The Rapides Foundation service area.
- Post-Secondary Institution(s): Identify cohort of qualified Employee Candidates; provide employer-identified training; support Employee Candidate success and transition to employment.
Eligibility and Grant Criteria
- Eligible grant recipients include accredited public, nonprofit, post-secondary institutions.
- Applicant must provide evidence of a partnership with business and industry, and demonstrate the role of each partner.
- Length of training programs should be one year or less.
- Applicant must demonstrate the existence of a training gap. (For example, show that the required training does not exist.)
- Applicant must describe the training need, including the effect it would have on the Foundation’s goal of raising the median household income.
- Applicant must demonstrate a Community Return on Investment as an outcome of the project. (Assistance with ROI analysis will be provided by CLEDA.)
- Applicant must demonstrate increased value-added production of goods and services in the traded sectors.
In addition to allowable expenses listed on the Project Budget Worksheet, funding may be requested for the following: tuition; faculty; supplies; student stipends; and capital that can be explicitly linked to enhanced programmatic implementation.
Proposed projects must be located and serve participants in the nine-parish service area of The Rapides Foundation.
*Note: Those who intend to apply should seek Technical Assistance for the Project Proposal from CLEDA, a Foundation partner in its Economic Development Initiative. See Contacts in the sidebar for information.