The Murphy Administration announced a $10 million pilot program Feb. 7 to support unemployed and underemployed New Jerseyans trying to navigate and succeed in the labor market.
The Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLA) program – part of the governor’s Future of Work initiative – is a two-year pilot that will provide job-coaching, training and employment support for these residents who do not have college degrees or workplace credentials. It is being coordinated in partnership between the governor’s office, the Office of Innovation, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL).
Managed and administered by NJDOL, the grants will provide funding to organizations that will recruit and deliver services to LiLA participants.
Eligible applicants for the awards include nonprofit or for-profit entities, government agencies, or institutes of higher education. Grantees are expected to identify or serve at least 100 low-income adults who have been unemployed for six months or more, or are significantly underemployed but willing to complete training and obtain work.
Those approved for grants will receive up to $750,000 per year contingent on meeting certain requirements. Each resident accepted will receive a LiLA of $9,600 that they can use for training, career development, child care and other expenses related to gaining meaningful employment.
The two-year pilot launches in March and runs until 2025.
“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,” said Murphy.
“The pandemic disproportionately hurt those who were already struggling economically, but we strongly believe this program will help permanently uplift this population,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “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 and inclusion, preparing our workers for sustaining jobs as we recover into a stronger and more resilient New Jersey.”
According to Beth Simone Noveck, New Jersey’s chief innovation officer and chair of the Future of Work Task Force, New Jersey workers told them they wanted more flexible ways to develop the skills necessary to obtain the jobs of tomorrow, and they listened.
“I am delighted New Jersey is moving forward to create this first-of-its-kind Lifelong Learning Account that will provide flexible support to help workers make informed decisions about the training they want and they choose,” she said.
“Lifelong Learning Accounts will help chronically underemployed and unemployed individuals obtain the training they need to succeed in a fast-changing economy,” said Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and distinguished professor at Rutgers University. “Comprehensive services, flexibility and coaching are essential for individuals who struggle to manage the demands of work and family while also preparing for better jobs.”
A technical assistance workshop will be held Feb. 15; applications are due by March 10.
The grants will be awarded on March 31.
A full Notice of Grant Opportunity is available here.e