People in marginalized and underrepresented populations will have the opportunity to overcome barriers to the career and technical education programs they need to be connected to good-paying jobs, thanks to a new initiative announced today by the Department of Labor (DOL).

To bolster community colleges’ and other institutions’ efforts to deliver more equitable education and training, the DOL announced the availability of a $50 million funding opportunity. The program will be administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration and will enable community colleges – individually or collectively – to address equity gaps and meet the skills development needs of employers and workers more effectively.

The department will award grants of up to $1.6 million for single institutions and up to $5 million for consortiums, with up to $5 million designated to fund at least one affinity consortium grant. This round of funding is being made available immediately, according to the DOL. The department is soliciting applications for the third round through an amendment to the second round of the SCC grants funding opportunity announcement.

Similar to the second round of SCC grants, the third funding round will concentrate on the capacity of community colleges to increase access to educational and economic opportunities equitably. To increase access, grant applicants will focus on specific equity gaps that impact students’ ability to develop skills, quickly learn new skills and gain employment in quality jobs.