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FTDD Receives $1.5 Million Federal WORC Grant

The First Tennessee Development District is excited to announce that it has been awarded a $1.5 million dollar Work Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative or WORC grant by the U.S. Department of Labor – in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority and Northern Border Regional Commission. WORC Grants are designed to provide career training and supportive services to help workers in these areas secure good jobs in stable, high-demand occupations.

“The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative leverages federal partnerships and engages local communities to develop strategies to prepare workers for good jobs in high-demand industries, such as broadband and cybersecurity, clean energy, healthcare and advanced manufacturing” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Brent Parton. “In addition to helping people in the Appalachian and lower Mississippi Delta regions, we’ve expanded the initiative to include the Northern Border regions of northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York to advance the administration’s efforts to invest in disadvantaged communities overburdened by pollution.”

“It is imperative to prioritize career training and support for rural Appalachians to ensure the region not only survives, but thrives and competes,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The newest round of WORC initiative grants will help give workers in distressed communities the resources they need to increase their career opportunities, which will in turn reignite Appalachian economies and boost the overall economic success of the entire region.”

Expanding on the success of Caring Workplaces, the District’s original WORC funded project, this new funding will continue to build an ecosystem of recovery friendly workplaces throughout the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee. Development District staff will achieves this by continuing to recruit, train and certify employers from every sector of the economy. Through a partnership with Ballad Health’s PEERhelp program, Peer Recovery Specialists will continue to navigate and deliver a host of peer support services such as soft skills training and obtaining valid forms of identification. These individuals become part of a nontraditional pipeline of work ready and peer supported employees deserving of a second chance with one the region’s Caring Workplaces employers.

Additionally, this round of WORC funding will allow Caring Workplaces to expand services by partnering with Recovery Resources, a local recovery housing organization. This partnership will help eliminate the barriers to housing and provide of transportation. It will also expand the opportunity for those in recovery or the justice involved to live in a peer supported, structured setting in close proximity to Caring Workplaces employers.

Lottie Ryans, Director of Workforce and Literacy Initiatives for the FTDD shared that “we are delighted DOL and ARC see the value of Caring Workplaces and will continue funding this important work. In addition to the peer supported work readiness and navigation to employment services provided through Ballad Health, we will now be including a housing component in partnership with Recovery Resources. This new partnership allows us to remove the common barrier to employment, lack of housing.” B.J. Gott, Director of Operations for Rite Screen, one of the first Caring Workplaces employers, added that “Rite Screen has been a partner with Caring Workplaces from its inception and we are pleased to see this meaningful and successful program continue.”

For more information about Caring Workplaces, please go to

For more about this or other District News, please contact Mark Stevans,

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