Thursday, February 9, 2023



Workforce Opportunity Grant part of Foundation’s Economic Development Initiative
Tammy Moreau and Kathy Gunn
/ Categories: E-Newsletters

Workforce Opportunity Grant part of Foundation’s Economic Development Initiative

Grant applications accepted on an ongoing basis

The Rapides Foundation’s work as a healthcare organization extends beyond areas that are intrinsically health-related. Our work in the area of economic and workforce development is based on the direct correlation between higher incomes and a healthier population. Research shows that healthy economies with low unemployment rates and higher- wage jobs provide people with the means to purchase medical insurance, make better healthcare choices and live healthier lifestyles.

LSUA Interim Chancellor Haywood Joiner and Louisiana Eye & Laser CEO and Administrator Lafe Jones

Recognizing workforce as the driver for economic development and income growth, the Foundation’s Economic Development Initiative in 2015 launched an ongoing grant opportunity designed to support training and education for above-median income occupations for which there is immediate demand in Central Louisiana. This new grant called the Workforce Opportunity Grant encourages strong partnerships between employers and higher education.

“We are encouraging postsecondary institutions, the workforce system, employers and industry groups to form partnerships to transform the way they design and deliver courses,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “We have had success with several new educational programs so far.”

Three employers worked with two postsecondary institutions to apply for Workforce Opportunity Grants that allowed them to develop and implement technical trainings that were not previously available in Central Louisiana. Because Workforce Opportunity Grant funds can be used to train instructors, develop curriculum and purchase training equipment, postsecondary institution partners are continuing to provide these new educational opportunities even after the grant cycles are complete.

“I think the goal of this grant was how do you tie together real-world employer needs with higher education in order to fund something that has some ongoing sustainability, and we think we’re on the path of doing that,” said Lafe Jones, CEO and Administrator of Louisiana Eye and Laser, which with Louisiana State University of Alexandria developed a new Optometric & Optical Technician Training Program with Workforce Opportunity Grant funding. LSUA plans to continue offering the course.

CLTCC Chancellor Jimmy Sawtelle and HVAC Instructor Bruce Twigg
Central Louisiana Technical Community College, which partnered with two different employers, said the Workforce Opportunity Grant has allowed the college to build its capacity and train Louisiana’s workforce. “What The Rapides Foundation did was it brought awareness to the industry that The Rapides Foundation wanted to facilitate training for their incumbent workers or their new hires, and then it funded those opportunities and made them scalable and sustainable to the success of the demand that each one had,” CLTCC Chancellor Jimmy Sawtelle said. “We want to thank The Rapides Foundation for creating opportunities where our citizens who need education and training receive it, and companies who need qualified workers receive it. We are standing by ready to do more grants.”

Eligible grant recipients include accredited public, nonprofit, postsecondary institutions. Applicants must provide evidence of a partnership with business and industry, and demonstrate the role of each partner.

Applications for the Workforce Opportunity Grant are accepted on an ongoing basis. All applications must be submitted using the Foundation’s online application process.

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