Good Jobs Challenge Frequently Asked Questions

View the Pre-Award Frequently Asked Questions dated February 1, 2022

Updated August 15, 2022

What is the Good Jobs Challenge?

The Good Jobs Challenge, one of EDA’s six innovative American Rescue Plan programs, invests $500 million across the United States to help train Americans for good jobs by developing and strengthening regional workforce training systems and sectoral partnerships. These systems and partnerships will create and implement industry-driven training programs, designed to connect American workers to quality job opportunities. Ultimately, these systems are designed to train workers with the skills to secure good jobs, that provide good-pay, benefits, and growth opportunities, such as a union job.

On August 3, 2022, EDA announced awards to 32 projects serving communities in 31 states and Puerto Rico. Details can be found here:

What is a “sectoral partnership” and a “regional workforce training system”?

For purposes of the Good Jobs Challenge:

  • “sectoral partnership” is a partnership of employers from the same industry who join with other strategic partners to train and place workers into high-quality jobs that employers need filled and intend to fill through the partnership. The strategic partners can include: government, education (including community and technical colleges), training organizations, economic development organizations, workforce development organizations, unions, labor management partnerships, industry associations, employer-serving organizations, and/or community-based organizations. A sectoral partnership is focused on one specific industry or functional area (e.g., finance, customer service), and one or more specific roles within that industry. Sectoral partnerships are effective because: they are carefully built to include all necessary partners before workforce solutions are designed; they cut across traditional economic development, workforce, education, and social services system silos; they are targeted to in-demand sectors with high-quality jobs; and they consider the economic realities of a regional industry in assessing workforce demand and training needs. Sectoral partnerships heighten the chance of job placement after program completion given their connection to real-time employer demand.
    • The lead entity of a sectoral partnership is referred to in the Good Jobs Challenge Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) as a “Backbone Organization.” See below for additional information on Backbone Organizations.
  • “regional workforce training system” is a system that fosters and supports multiple sectoral partnerships. A mature regional workforce training system will include a lead entity and multiple sectoral partnerships, each with their own Backbone Organization (though one Backbone Organization could lead multiple sectoral partnerships), training provider(s), and industry partners. The lead entity (e.g., a state government, municipal government, state workforce board, local workforce board) coordinates across and supports the sectoral partnerships within its system. A regional workforce training system may also include other entities that support across multiple sectoral partnerships (e.g., a community-based organization that supports recruiting for all of the sectoral partnerships).

Figure 1 offers a visualization of how different entities work together in a sectoral partnership and Figure 2 gives an illustrative example of a regional workforce training system.

Figure 1 offers a visualization of how different entities work together in a sectoral partnership and Figure 2 gives an illustrative example of a regional workforce training system.
Click for larger version


Figure 2 – Illustrative Example of a Regional Workforce Training System:
Figure 2 – Illustrative Example of a Regional Workforce Training System
Click for larger version


Are regional workforce training systems the same as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) systems?

No. Regional workforce training systems may include WIOA systems or their component organizations, but regional workforce training systems are not limited to WIOA systems and may not always include a Workforce Development Board as a partner. Other key partners may include employers, educational institutions, training providers, community-based organizations, unions, and employer-serving organizations (e.g., chambers).

What is a “System Lead Entity” and a “Backbone Organization”?

Applicants may submit projects for a regional workforce training system made up of several sectors / industries, or they may submit projects for a single sectoral partnership (one sector / industry). A System Lead Entity leads and convenes a multi-sector regional workforce training system, while a Backbone Organization leads and convenes a single-sector sectoral partnership.

A strong System Lead Entity or Backbone Organization for each system or partnership is a key element to the success of the system. An effective System Lead Entity or Backbone Organization will have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Convening power in the region;
  • Committed support of the executive leadership from the region and buy-in from appropriate stakeholders depending on the affected region (e.g., a governor, mayor or chief executive of a jurisdiction, chief executives of a major employers, heads of labor unions, presidents of two- and four-year institutions of higher education, etc.);
  • Relationships and credibility with key players in the workforce ecosystem, including employers, governmental entities, state or local workforce development boards, educational institutions, labor organizations, community-based organizations, and worker-serving organizations;
  • A proven track record of coordinating across sectors and partners and of driving stakeholders to successful action;
  • Ability to translate various sectors’ objectives and key concerns to other sectors (System Lead Entity only);
  • Strong fundraising capabilities or for Backbone Organizations, connection to a system with strong fundraising capabilities; and
  • Dedicated full-time employee(s) focused on regional workforce issues to support regional economic development.

What is the difference between jobs created, jobs retained, and jobs placed?

  • Jobs created are new jobs that are directly or indirectly generated from EDA grant funding or associated follow-on private investment.
  • Jobs retained are jobs that existed prior to EDA grant funding that would have disappeared without EDA investment.
  • Jobs placed are jobs that had or will have vacancies prior to EDA grant funding and, due to EDA investments, now have workers matched or placed into those jobs.

What does Equity mean in the context of the Good Jobs Challenge?

Equity is defined in EDA’s Investment Priorities as projects or programs that that directly benefit:

  1. >one or more traditionally underserved populations (PDF), including but not limited to women, Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders; or
  2. >underserved communities within geographies that have been systemically and/or systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic prosperity such as Tribal Lands, Persistent Poverty Counties (XLSX), and rural areas with demonstrated, historical underservice.

For more information on these populations and geographies see:

What other workforce-related terms are important for this program and how do they relate to Department of Labor programs?

Below are some terms that are frequently used in the Department of Labor and WIOA context:

Career pathway: The term "career pathway" means a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that— (A) aligns with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the State or regional economy involved; (B) prepares an individual to be successful in any of a full range of secondary or postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships registered under the National Apprenticeship Act; (C) includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual’s education and career goals; (D) includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster; (E) organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable; (F) enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and at least 1 recognized postsecondary credential; and (G) helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster.

In-demand industry sector or occupation: The term "in-demand industry sector or occupation" means— (i) an industry sector that has a substantial current or potential impact (including through jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for advancement) on the State, regional, or local economy, as appropriate, and that contributes to the growth or stability of other supporting businesses, or the growth of other industry sectors; or (ii) an occupation that currently has or is projected to have a number of positions (including positions that lead to economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for advancement) in an industry sector so as to have a significant impact on the State, regional, or local economy, as appropriate. The determination of whether an industry sector or occupation is in-demand under this paragraph is made by the State board or local board (defined below), as appropriate, using State and regional business and labor market projections, including the use of labor market information.

Local board: The term "local board" means a local workforce development board established under WIOA section 107. See definition of “Workforce development board” below.

State board: The term "State board" means a State workforce development board established under WIOA section 101. See definition of “Workforce development board” below.

Workforce development board: Workforce development boards convene State, regional, and local workforce system and partners, to: (a) enhance the capacity and performance of the workforce development system; (b) align and improve the outcomes and effectiveness of Federally-funded and other workforce programs and investments; (c) through these efforts, promote economic growth; (d) engage public workforce system representatives, including businesses, education providers, economic development, labor representatives, and other stakeholders to help the workforce development system achieve the purpose of the WIOA; and (e) assist to achieve the State's strategic and operational vision and goals as outlined in the State’s WIOA plan.

What do “Work-and-Learn” training models look like?

EDA does not have a set definition of work-and-learn models under the Good Jobs Challenge. The Good Jobs Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) gives examples of the types of training models EDA sought to fund. See Section A.1.b.iv. (pg. 13). Some examples include Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, on-the-job training programs, internships, etc.

How do the awardees further the Administration’s goal of building a better America?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Good Jobs Challenge was created to meet the needs of both American workers and industry, by breaking down historic silos between the public and private sectors in workforce training systems. By integrating industry in every step of the talent development process, the Good Jobs Challenge is placing people into quality jobs and spurring economic growth.

How does this program connect to EDA’s mission as the only federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development?

This program was designed to support regional economic development by training workers in in-demand industries that are critical to local economic growth. By aligning workforce training systems with local economic development strategies, the program works to better integrate these two systems. Moreover, by focusing on specific industry segment strategies and emphasizing employer leadership in the design of workforce training systems, the Good Jobs Challenge will train workers with the skills needed for businesses — large and small — to compete in the 21st Century.

What type of outreach was done to solicit proposals?

Following the launch of the Good Jobs Challenge program in July 2021, EDA executed an extensive outreach plan to strengthen and diversify the applicant pool. EDA held numerous stakeholder briefings and public webinars, reaching more than 5,000 attendees. Program briefings and webinars can be found here.

How were the awardees selected?

EDA conducted a comprehensive, merit-based review as described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). All complete applications were reviewed by at least three individuals and scored against the merit review criteria provided in the NOFO. EDA funded awards to the highest scoring projects after application of the NOFO selection factors that ensured a balanced portfolio.

How will EDA support the success of the awardees?

EDA will monitor and provide technical assistance to each awardee to ensure it successfully recruits, trains, and places Americans into high quality jobs. On August 3, 2022, EDA announced a community of practice grant to Jobs for the Future to strengthen each sector partnership, build connections among stakeholders and share best practices, facilitate employer engagement in workforce training systems, and provide tailored technical assistance to all Good Jobs Challenge awardees. EDA staff will also work directly with each awardee to ensure they are performing in accordance with their approved scope of work and meeting milestones.

EDA will also support grantee success by working with grantees to monitor outcomes, for workers and local economies, across the Good Jobs Challenge portfolio. In March 2022, EDA published a Federal Register notice that solicited public comments on a proposed set of information collection (87 FR 17982) from the Good Jobs Challenge awardees, including information related to their regional workforce systems, sectoral partnerships, and participants trained. This information collection system is designed to help evaluate success of EDA’s Good Jobs Challenge program. Success metrics for the program align with EDA’s mission and the stated expectations of the American Rescue Plan funding. EDA will measure how the program supports regional economic recovery from the pandemic and creates good-paying jobs for Americans across the country.

How does EDA prioritize job quality in this program?

EDA established the Good Jobs Challenge to create training programs that result in placements in high quality jobs for Americans, including those from historically underserved communities. A quality job (or a “good-paying job”) is a job that exceeds the local prevailing wage for an industry in the region, includes basic benefits (e.g., paid leave, health insurance, retirement/savings plan) and/or is unionized, and helps the employee develop the skills and experiences necessary to advance along a career path. “Prevailing wage” is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as “the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment.”

Applicants were also asked to form partnerships with stakeholders that will design systems that meet workers’ needs and result in placement in quality jobs, including unions, community-based organizations, and other institutions. Half of the grantees have indicated engagement with organized labor, including commitments to partnering with organized labor and helping workers get union jobs. Forty unions or union-affiliated organizations have signed letters of support for these grantees.

As EDA implements these grants, it will work with employers, unions, and other key stakeholders to ensure that jobs targeted by training programs are high quality. EDA has also awarded a grant to Jobs for the Future (JFF) to serve as a community of practice provider, to work with grantees to ensure training leads to quality job opportunities for Americans. Finally, EDA will closely monitor job quality outcomes across the Good Jobs Challenge portfolio. In March, EDA published a Federal Register notice that solicited public comments on a proposed set of information collection (87 FR 17982) from the Good Jobs Challenge grantees, which includes information on job positions and wage growth.

How does EDA prioritize locally-based and regionally driven economic development planning processes through these projects?

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) are locally-based and regionally driven economic development planning processes, typically prepared by an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD) organization, to guide capacity building efforts that best serve economic development in the region. CEDS equivalents can also include various regional economic development plans (or a combination of plans), including but not limited to regional comprehensive plans, regional resilience plans, or recovery plans.

Each of the 32 awardees for the Good Jobs Challenge includes information about how the project aligns with CEDS or CEDS-equivalent strategies. Projects include economic development stakeholders, and five projects have a lead or backbone organization that is an economic development entity.

My project wasn’t selected. How can I learn about ways to increase the competitiveness of my application for future grant programs?

EDA cannot share deliberative scoring materials. EDA received applications requesting more than $6.5 billion in funding for the $500 million program, resulting in many competitive proposals. On August 10, 2022, EDA held a webinar for applicants to discuss the Good Jobs Challenge selection process and future opportunities to engage with EDA. You can view a recording of that webinar here.

How can I get involved in one of these selected projects?

EDA encourages employers, unions, and other key stakeholders to join these partnerships. Please reach out to [email protected] to discuss involvement with the EDA team and get connected to the Good Jobs Challenge awardees.

What are the phases that an awardee will pass through over the course of the grant period?

The Good Jobs Challenge will fund the following phases:

  1. System Development: funding to help a System Lead Entity establish and develop a regional workforce training system comprised of one or more sector partnerships.
  2. Program Design: funding for sector partnership(s) to identify the skills needed by industry and workers, develop the skills training curriculum and materials, and secure technical expertise needed to train workers with the skills needed by industry, including providing professional development and capacity-building to trainers and educators.
  3. Program Implementation: funding to deliver workforce training and wrap-around services that place workers into quality jobs. (All projects must include a program implementation phase).

Examples of eligible activities under each phase include:

Figure 3: Examples of eligible activities under each phase
Click for larger version

All 32 grantees indicated phases that are applicable and will work with EDA to document successful completion of these phases prior to receipt of funding for successive phases. Please refer to the project narratives for further details. All awardees additionally include a program implementation phase, as required under the NOFO.

What is the average award size?

The average award size across 32 awardees is $15,625,000.
The median award size across 32 awardees is $15,859,759.

How many states and territories are represented?

The awardees will serve Americans in 31 states and 1 U.S. territory: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and Washington. Twenty-seven awardees will implement within a single state, four awardees will implement in multi-state regions and one awardee will implement a project spanning 11 states.

What types of entities are leading and supporting these projects?

EDA’s 32 lead applicants and 99 backbone organizations represent a diverse group of local organizations that are bringing together robust and connected regional coalitions across multiple sectors. Economic development organizations, workforce organizations, leading 2- and 4-year higher education institutions, local government partners, labor unions, community-based organizations, and other key stakeholders have come together with large and small employers as coalition partners to create shared strategies and solutions to address the talent needs of regional economies. The graphic below demonstrates this diversity.


Good Jobs Challenge Awardee Industries
Click for larger version

How does this program prioritize equity?

Equity is EDA’s first investment priority and its commitment to equity is embedded throughout the Good Jobs Challenge. The program was designed to be worker-centered, with a focus on recruiting and training historically underserved populations and areas, communities of color, women, and other groups facing labor market barriers. Each applicant was encouraged to design coordinated and comprehensive approaches to removing systemic barriers for workers to participate in the training programs funded by EDA awards through wraparound services such as childcare and transportation. The merit review process included equity as an evaluation factor and applications were scored against how well the projects articulated a plan to ensure that the project’s benefits were shared across all affected communities.

EDA’s commitment to equity is reflected in the 32 awardees selected for funding. These awardees are focused on serving and lifting up underserved communities that represent the fabric of America—from working parents, veterans and military spouses, youth, formerly incarcerated individuals, and those in recovery to Black, Latinx, AAPI communities, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ+ populations, and more. The awardees will fund a variety of services to ensure these populations have equitable opportunities to complete training and attain a high-paying job.

What wraparound services will be provided through this program?

Wraparound services or “participant support costs” are important services that mitigate barriers to employment for trainees, students, and workers to help them complete workforce training activities. Good Jobs Challenge awardees will support Americans with costs that are necessary for participation in the program by providing services including but not limited to childcare, transportation, language support, access to technology, financial coaching, and career navigation.

How are employers involved in this program?

The Good Jobs Challenge program is designed to break down historic silos between workforce training systems and the private sector. EDA sought applications that included employer partnership and effective leadership at all stages of the talent development process, with a particular emphasis on commitments to hire.

Across the 32 awardees, EDA received 824 letters of employer commitment—from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses across the country. Across those 824 letters, EDA received well in excess of 50,000 employer commitments to hire. Other commitments ranged from developing training curriculum, implementing training, providing paid on-the-job training opportunities including Registered Apprenticeships and other work and learn models, contributing equipment for training.

How are unions or other labor organizations involved in this program?

EDA recognizes that labor unions are key partners to the success of this program and the ARPA funding opportunities. Through labor’s efforts, American workers are able to secure decent wages, affordable health care, job security, safe and respectful workplaces, and impactful job training opportunities. Half of the grantees have indicated engagement with organized labor, including commitments to partnering with organized labor and helping workers get union jobs. Forty unions or union-affiliated organizations have signed letters of support for these grantees. Union partnerships include co-creation of programs, recruiting through union networks, and placing jobseekers into union apprenticeships. In partnership with these unions, EDA will build pathways into high-quality, union jobs for thousands of Americans across the country.

What types of institutions of higher education (IHEs) are involved in this program?

There are several institutions of higher education represented across the selected partnerships, including community colleges, universities, and private and public IHEs. Six institutions of higher education serve as system lead entities including three universities (one of which is an EDA University Center), three community colleges, two Hispanic-Serving Institutions, a Historically Black University, and an Asian American- and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. There are 21 institutions of higher education that will serve as backbone organizations across the 32 awardees, including 13 community colleges and 8 universities. Finally, numerous institutions of higher education will contribute to the design and implementation of training programs that are high quality and meet the employment needs of in-demand sectors across the country.

How does this program advance the Administration’s supply chain and climate priorities?

Building resilient supply chains that can withstand future shocks is crucial to our nation’s prosperity. The Good Jobs Challenge awardees are strengthening worker pipelines in critical supply chain industries. There are twelve awardees training Americans in industries that support American supply chains. Among these include a project that will train hundreds of new truck drivers in Oregon, a project that will train Americans to work for leading medical supply and logistics companies in Florida, and a project training ship builders in Virginia and North Carolina.

The Good Jobs Challenge is supporting America’s rapidly growing clean energy and climate resilience sectors, as the federal government works to address the climate crisis. There are eight awardees training Americans to work in these industries. These awardees’ emphasis on placing underserved populations into good jobs is directly aligned with the President’s Justice 40 initiative to ensure 40 percent of Federal climate investments flow to underserved communities. Among these projects include a project creating a clean energy sector partnership training Americans in rural “Black Belt” communities, a project to create a statewide infrastructure for training California residents in forestry and fire safety careers, and a project to train individuals in Maryland’s rapidly growing wind industry.

What industries are represented?

There are 15 primary industries represented across the 32 awardees: Healthcare, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Energy and Resilience, Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics, Building and Construction, Forestry and Fire Safety, Financial Services, Childcare, Biotechnology, Water and Blue Economy, Education, Aerospace and Defense, Agriculture and Food Production, Film, Arts, and Media.

See below for a breakdown of the industries of focus for each awardee:

Lead Applicant / System Lead Entity Industry
Alaska Primary Care Association


Charleston Chamber Foundation


Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

Healthcare; Manufacturing; Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Information Technology

City of Birmingham


City of New York Human Resources Administration

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Building and Construction

City of Springfield

Healthcare; Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Education

Dallas College


Economic Development and Industrial Corporation of Boston

Healthcare; Energy and Resilience; Childcare

Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Healthcare; Manufacturing; Education

Foundation for California Community Colleges

Forestry and Fire Safety

Fresno County Economic Development Corporation

Financial & Professional Services; Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Manufacturing; Building and Construction

Hampton Roads Workforce Council

Water and Blue Economy; Energy and Resilience

Illinois Central College

Information Technology

Lakota Funds

Building and Construction

Maryland Department of Labor

Energy and Resilience

Miami Dade College

Information Technology

Mid-South Center for Occupational Innovation

Building and Construction; Manufacturing; Transportation, Distribution and Logistics


Healthcare, Information Technology; Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Energy and Resilience

North Central New Mexico Economic Development District

Healthcare, Building and Construction

Office of Workforce Strategy

Manufacturing; Healthcare; Information Technology; Bio-Medical

OMA Educational and Industrial Development Institute



Information Technology

Philadelphia Works, Inc

Healthcare; Building and Construction; Energy and Resilience

Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

The Chamber Foundation

Agriculture and Food Production; Information Technology; Manufacturing


Aerospace & Defense; Building and Construction; Financial & Services

United Way of Central Iowa


University of Hawaii

Healthcare; Information Technology; Energy and Resilience; Film, Arts, & Media

Washington Student Achievement Council

Healthcare; Information Technology; Financial & Professional Services; Energy and Resilience; Manufacturing; Construction; Aerospace & Defense

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital

Building and Construction; Information Technology; Healthcare

WTIA Workforce Institute

Information Technology

What should I do if I have additional questions not answered in this FAQ? How do I get in touch with EDA?

Please send all inquiries about the American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge to [email protected].