General Program FAQ

This FAQ page is specific to General Program grants.

At Commonwealth Corporation, we recognize the major implications the COVID-19 virus is having on the organizations we support. We are encouraging Workforce Training Fund grantees to coordinate with their training provider(s) to offer the planned content remotely or through virtual classrooms, if possible.

The Workforce Training Fund is a state fund financed entirely by Massachusetts employers, and enacted into law in July 1998. Its purpose is to provide resources to Massachusetts businesses and workers to train current and newly hired employees.

The mission of the Workforce Training Fund is to provide applicants with the resources to invest in the Massachusetts workforce, improve employee skills, and maintain the economic strength and viability of the Commonwealth’s businesses. The fund’s major focus is on small- to medium-sized businesses that would not be able to make this investment without the assistance of the Fund. Training funded by this program should address the priorities of the Fund:

  • Projects that will result in job retention, job growth or increased wages.
  • Projects where training would make a difference in the company’s productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts.
  • Projects where the applicant has made a commitment to provide significant private investment in training for the duration of the grant, and after the grant has expired.

What grants are available?

Several grants are available from the Workforce Training Fund. For a full list of grants currently available, click here.

How much money is available?

Each year we expect to award between $10 million and $15 million in General Program grants.

It is funded by the Massachusetts employer community. Legislation enacted in 1998 resulted in a reduction of $121 million in unemployment insurance rate payments for Massachusetts employers in 1999.In conjunction with these lower rates, legislation also established a new Workforce Training contribution of $18 million annually, effective January 1999.

Training Grants: awarded directly to employers and consortia of employers to train current and newly hired workers. Organizations that are eligible to receive and administer a consortium grant on behalf of a group of employers with common training needs include:

  • A participating employer who agrees to act and the lead organization;
  • Nonprofit organizations including charitable organizations with expertise in training, business leagues, industry associations, and chambers of commerce;
  • Community Colleges;
  • Labor Organizations; and
  • Other public entities/intermediary organizations such as Workforce Investment Boards with expertise in workforce development and/or industry training needs.

Applicants must provide a Massachusetts Department of Revenue Certificate of Good Standing (not to be confused with a Certificate of Incorporation) certifying that all applicable business taxes are up-to-date (see sample certificate). Applications will not be considered without a valid certificate, issued within the last six months.

Applicants must also be compliant with all laws and obligations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (e.g. taxes, reporting of employees and contractors, unemployment insurance contributions) to be considered for a grant.

Other restrictions and requirements may apply.

In order to be eligible for a grant, an organization must contribute to the Workforce Training Fund via a surcharge of Unemployment Insurance (UI) contributions. Some nonprofits contribute but others do not. This is determined by the method selected for UI coverage. Click here for more information. Nonprofits that select the “contributory method” are paying into the WTFP and are therefore eligible to apply. Nonprofits that select the “reimbursable method” are paying a discounted rate that does not include contribution to the WTFP and therefore are not eligible to apply.

Governmental entities since they do not pay into the Workforce Training Fund.

While the Workforce Training Fund’s major focus is on small to medium-sized companies, companies of any size are eligible to apply for General Program Training Grants.

A company with headquarters outside of Massachusetts may apply for training funds, provided that all employees to be trained work in Massachusetts (i.e. payroll taxes are paid to Massachusetts). Individual trainees are not required to live in Massachusetts, but Massachusetts must be their primary work place and payroll taxes must be paid to Massachusetts for all trainees.

Generally speaking, the level of income, sales, earnings or profits should not preclude an organization from applying for Workforce Training Fund grants. However, the economic soundness and viability of an organization will be taken into consideration.

General Program applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. In most cases, applicants will be notified of application outcomes within 60 days from submission of a complete application.

Training Grants: Training grants range from $10,000 to $200,000 per two-year grant period.

Training programs must be completed within two years.

Training Grants: General Program Training Grant recipients will not be eligible to apply for new grants until the one year waiting period has elapsed from the end of the last grant. (NOTE: see below)

NOTICE: Due to the effects of Covid-19, WTFP temporarily offered a waiver of the one-year waiting period through June 30, 2023. As of July 1, 2023, all applications received are subject to the one year wait period.

Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for training.

Contract employees are not eligible to be trained with these funds. Only payroll employees may participate in training.

All trainees must be paid at their regular rates during time spend in training. The cost of trainee salary and fringe during training hours (not planning or prep-time) may be attributed to company matching funds.

Must I use an outside trainer provider?

In a few rare occasions, grant-funded training has been provided by in-house expert trainers already employed by the company. Generally speaking, grant funds pay for the fees of external training vendors to provide training customized to meet your needs. In most cases training is provided to groups on-site at your company. However, training may be held off-site.

Must training providers be Massachusetts-based companies?

No, the trainer does not have to be Massachusetts-based. However, all employees receiving training must work in Massachusetts.

Must the training occur in Massachusetts?

No, training can take place outside Massachusetts. However, applicants must demonstrate that such training and its related expenses are cost effective and reasonable. Grant funds may not be used to pay for trainer or trainees travel expenses. Reasonable travel expenses may be attributed to company matching funds.

Yes, Massachusetts community colleges frequently provide training to businesses that is funded by Workforce Training Fund Program grants.  If you are looking for a source of training, it is recommended that you contact your local community college to determine if they are able to meet your training needs.  For more information you can visit this map of Massachusetts Community College campuses or this directory of community college Workforce Development contacts.

What kind of training is allowable?

The Workforce Training Fund imposes few restrictions on training. What is taught, how it is taught, and when it is taught is up to the employer. There are no rigid standards for subject matter or hours of instruction. The duration of training may be up to two years.

Will the Fund pay for existing training that my company is already doing?

No, grants will not be provided to subsidize existing, ongoing training that would likely take place without a grant. However, grants will be awarded for projects that will supplement existing investment in training.

Training must be job specific and programs such as an elementary new employee orientation will not be funded, nor will a training program designed exclusively to meet an existing mandate, such as OSHA training.

Will the fund pay for apprenticeship training or training leading to state licensing?

The Workforce Training Fund does not fund union-sponsored apprenticeship training as it is mandated training and the cost of training is paid by union members as part of their dues, nor does the program fund state- mandated training.

The Workforce Training Fund will consider funding training if it is above and beyond the training required or mandated for state or union certification. However, it is the responsibility of the applicant to differentiate, in the application, the proposed training from the mandated training.

Is it necessary to train all of my employees in order to receive a grant?

No. In fact, most successful proposals focus on a limited number of employees to be trained. The goal is to design a training proposal that fits a clearly defined and well-focused training need or set of training needs in your organization.

Is computer training allowed?

Training in end-user computer skills like Windows, Excel and Access may be considered if it will provide computer skills that were not previously required to employees. Applicants must distinguish these skills from the basic skills previously required of workers.

Training in more advanced end-user skills or training for IT system administrators is allowable if additional capabilities will result and training would not be expected take place if a grant was not awarded. In cases where this is a difficult distinction, applicants may wish to seek funds to pay an appropriate portion of training fees, agreeing to cover the rest out-of-pocket. The rationale used to determine the appropriate portion should be described. Fees paid for by the company may be attributed to matching funds.

What are allowable training costs under a Workforce Training Fund grant?

Allowable training costs include those expenses that will occur during the course of the training grant period. They may include fees for training vendors, tuition, and supplies used exclusively for training. Other training-related expenses may be attributed to company matching funds.

There is no minimum or maximum amount that the program will invest per employee, but applications will be judged on cost effectiveness.

Grants will not be awarded to subsidize a company’s on-going training expenses. Grant funds may supplement but not replace private investment in training. In cases where it is difficult to distinguish training that would take place without a grant from closely-related training that would not otherwise take place, applicants may wish to seek funds to pay an appropriate portion of training fees, agreeing to cover the rest out-of-pocket. The rationale used to determine the appropriate portion should be described. Fees paid by the company may be attributed to matching funds.

Is training through our company’s tuition reimbursement program allowable?

Training through your company’s established tuition reimbursement program is not allowable. Workforce Training Fund grants seek to deliver skills-based training to incumbent workers. No additional consideration will be made for courses that are also academic credit-bearing or certificate granting programs.

Are employees’ wages while in training an allowable training cost?

Employees’ wages are not an allowable grant-funded expense. Trainee salary and fringe during training hours may be attributed to company matching funds requirements.

May training funds be used to pay for the costs of certification associated with the proposed training?

No. Funds can be used to pay for the direct cost of delivering training, but not for the costs of certification following the training. For example, the Workforce Training Fund will pay for ISO training costs, but not the cost of ISO certification.

What is the matching requirement to receive a grant?

Training grants and technical assistance grants must be matched at least dollar-for-dollar by the grantee. Company matching contribution can come in the form of in-kind expenses such as the cost of trainees’ salary and fringe during training or the use of space (prorated). All grant-funded and matching-expenses must be documented and reported to the program for payment. Applicants are encouraged to plan conservatively so that all of the funds allocated can actually be received. Over-estimating matching expenses could result in allocated funds being withheld if targets are not met.

Who is responsible for providing matching funds under training or technical assistance grants?

In the case of a grant to an individual company, the matching expenses must be paid for by the company, not a third party. In the case of a consortium grant, the combined matching expenses of consortium partners must be reported by the organization leading the consortium.

What guidelines can I follow to determine what constitutes an appropriate match?

Match may be cash or in-kind and includes only those current or newly incurred costs that are directly related to undertaking the proposed training. Match may not include costs that are not part of the proposed training plan, but rather are general costs of doing business. All matching expenses must be incurred during the grant contract period. Any co-investment that takes place before or after the two-year grant will not be attributed to company match.

  • NOTE: ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is a priority of the Workforce Training Fund. Effective immediately, new General Program applications that include workplace ESOL are not required to meet the dollar-for-dollar matching requirement, if the application otherwise meets the match in absence of the ESOL module(s). ​For example, if the total grant request is $200,000, with $50,000 designated for ESOL, the matching funds for the non-ESOL modules must total at least $150,000.

If your training plan includes ESOL you must contact us at [email protected] before you apply for guidance about how to take full advantage of special exceptions for ESOL.

Financial documentation is requested in order to provide an overview of the applicant’s basic financial stability and viability of an applicant. Measures are in place to assure the confidentiality of these documents. In fact, authorizing legislation explicitly shields financial information, provided with your application, from public record.

Information about company diversity plans, supplier diversity plans, and workforce demographic data requested is being gathered for the purpose of better understanding program participation and impact at-large.  Such information will not be a factor in deciding whether or not an application will be approved for funding.  Commonwealth Corporation / State of MA will publish only aggregated data, and only in a manner that does not reveal any particular organizations’ or any individual employees’ personal information.

For our purposes, there is no formal definition of a diversity plan / supplier diversity plan. If your company is actively engaged in a pre-existing and organized plan to address workforce diversity / supplier diversity, please indicate “YES” and describe the company’s plan/practices in the requested field.

To apply, follow the instructions provided via the link below:

Training Grant Application

All applications undergo an internal staff screening and review prior to making a recommendation to the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board. The Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board consists of 9 members representing the general public, businesses, training providers, and labor organizations. In addition, your local Workforce Investment Board. is asked to provide comments to the reviewers on applications from their area.

The following criteria, originating from the statute authorizing the WTFP (Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 29, Section 2RR) will be considered: (i) whether the project will increase the skills of low wage, low skilled workers; (ii) whether the project will create or preserve jobs at wages sufficient to support a family; (iii) whether the project will have a positive economic impact on a region with high levels of unemployment or a high concentration of low skilled workers; (iv) whether the employer has made a commitment to provide significant private investment in training during the duration of the grant and after the grant has expired; (v) whether the project will supplement, rather than replace, private investments in training; (vi) whether the employer is a small business that lacks the capacity to provide adequate training without such assistance; (vii) whether the project will provide residents of the commonwealth with training for jobs that could otherwise be filled only by residents of other nations; and (viii) whether the project is consistent with the workforce development blueprint prepared by the regional employment board. (ix) whether the employer has recently or plans to locate its business in the commonwealth and employ residents of the commonwealth who will benefit from training, provided that said employer shall not receive funds until said employer has located its business in the commonwealth.

Applicants are not required to meet each criterion for funding. Successful applicants will appeal to some combination of the criteria. Greater weight may be placed one or more criterion. Other factors including but not limited to the completeness of the application will be considered.

Throughout the year, at various locations throughout the Commonwealth, we provide a series of Info Sessions and Grant Application Workshops. Click here for upcoming events.

For additional assistance, please contact our team at [email protected]

Please follow us on Twitter @MassWTFP


Workforce Training Fund
Commonwealth Corporation
33 Harrison Ave, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02111

When will I receive grant funds?

Training Grants: If a grant is approved, the company will work with WTFP staff to prepare and execute a grant contract. In most cases, the completion of the contracting process prompts the first cash advance of 25% of the total grant award, which the company will receive by check. After the initial cash advance has been spent and the associated training has been completed, the company will submit a report of expenses paid to-date which, once approved, will prompt the release of the next 25% of the grant award. Subsequently, the company may repeat this process in order to receive the third payment of 25%. The final payment is not an advance to the grantee, but a reimbursement for the final grant-funded expenses at the end of the grant. The final payment will be held until all activity has been completed and final reports have been completed.

When can I actually start my training program?

You should not begin any grant-funded training prior to executing a contract. Any expenses that pre-date the contract period will not be covered under a grant. Contracts will not be retroactively issued. Only after a grantee has executed a contract may training begin.

What additional paperwork is required once a grant is underway?

In addition to fiscal reporting, grantees will complete a grant activity report each quarter indicating what training took place during the quarter. At the conclusion of the grant, grantees will complete a final report that reports actual performance compared to contract goals.

Applicants will be informed in writing of the reasons their application was not approved and may reapply at any time. Companies that have applied unsuccessfully may receive application assistance services from Commonwealth Corporation. Application assistance includes one-on-one guidance, from experts at no cost to your company.

There may be tax implications for receipt of a Workforce Training Fund grant. Grantees are encouraged to discuss these implications with their tax advisors.

Impact Numbers

Trainees Served in FY 2021
0 K+
Businesses Supported in FY 2021
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Commonwealth Corporation is a quasi-public agency that was established in 1996 under the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. 

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