The Wisconsin Office of Skills Development (OSD) announced this week that the Fast Forward grant program will release two ongoing Grant Program Announcements (GPAs) starting July 1. OSD, which operates under the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), will release GPAs in both the Small Business Occupations and All Sectors categories that will remain open all year. OSD will award Fast Forward Grants in each category at the end of each quarter.
Wisconsin’s Fast Forward grant program began under Gov. Scott Walker in 2013. The program administers grant funds for various occupations throughout the state to support employer-led worker training projects. Previously, OSD put out GPAs at least once a quarter throughout the year after using research and data to determine what specific GPAs should be released. OSD will continue this practice, but the change announced this week will guarantee available grant opportunities in the Small Business Occupations and All Sectors categories consistently throughout the year.
For small businesses, up to $500,000 in grants will be available per quarter in fiscal year 2017-18. Companies with 50 full-time employees or less can receive $5,000 to $50,000 in awards, provided they match $0.50 for every $1 requested. $1.5 million per quarter in grants will be available for All Sectors in fiscal year 2017-18. Companies of any size can receive $5,000 to $400,000, provided they match the grant dollar for dollar. OSD will award the grants by the end of May, August, November and February.
“OSD believes that this change will better serve grant applicants moving forward,” OSD Director Rita Atkinson said in an email.
Walker’s 2017-19 proposed state budget recommended adding $11.5 million GPR for all workforce training grants under DWD. Walker’s proposal further specified an expansion of the Fast Forward program to five new categories, including high school pupil certifications, technical teacher training programs, employee research networks, internship programs and nurse training programs. The Joint Finance Committee approved Walker’s proposal in their May 31 executive session by a 12-4 vote.