The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, together with the Governor’s Office, teamed up to fund a two-year pilot program to provide job coaching, training and employment support to jobless and chronically underemployed residents who do not have college degrees or workplace credentials.
The novel Lifelong Learning Accounts, or LiLA, program was conceived to promote equitable opportunities, upward mobility and economic fairness. It will provide funding to organizations who will recruit and deliver services to LiLA participants, according to a Tuesday announcement.
“The barriers to family-sustaining employment are well known, but here in New Jersey — with this grant and other forward-thinking initiatives — we are creating life-changing opportunities for underserved residents,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.
The $10 million program is designed to help participants overcome barriers to gainful, permanent employment in part by making stipends for wrap-around services such as child care and transportation available to those who need them in order to complete a training course or succeed at work. The integration of career coaching, professional mentoring and up-to-date information on labor market trends provide critical support to participants as they advance their careers. Participants’ career plans will be tailored to their individual goals and needs.
“The pandemic disproportionately hurt those who were already struggling economically, but we strongly believe this program will help permanently uplift this population,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, whose agency is administering the grant, said. “We’re thankful for this new initiative as we continue to develop the skills and talents of our workforce with a focus on diversity, equity & inclusion, preparing our workers for sustaining jobs as we recover into a stronger and more resilient New Jersey.”
The two-year pilot program starts in March and ends in 2025.
Eligible applicants for the LiLA Grant can be a nonprofit or for-profit entity, a government agency or an institute of higher education. Grantees are expected to identify and serve at least 100 low-income adults who have been unemployed for six months or more or are significantly underemployed, but are willing and able to complete training and obtain work.
Approved grantees will receive up to $750,000 per year contingent upon meeting the grant’s performance goals and expenditures. Each resident accepted into the program will receive a lifelong learning account of $9,600 that they can use for training, career development, child care and other expenses related to gaining meaningful employment.