September 28, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Western New York Workforce Development Challenge Round 2 Awardees

Governor Cuomo Announces Western New York Workforce Development Challenge Round 2 Awardees

Four Local Not-for-Profits to Receive $1.45 Million to Support Workforce Training in Agriculture, Health and Life Sciences, and Technology Sectors

Lieutenant Governor Hochul Kicks Off New York State Workforce Development Awareness Week

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1,454,072 million in funding from the second round of the Western New York Workforce Development Challenge has been awarded to four local nonprofit organizations. The program helps ensure the region's workforce pipeline is being responsive to industry demands and promotes and invests in innovative approaches to workforce training for underserved populations.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul made today's announcement and also kicked off New York State's Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation's workforce.

"These awards will provide people with the training and skills they need to compete in today's fast-growing industries and help New York build back better," Governor Cuomo said. "The state's workforce must adapt in order to take advantage of the rapidly changing economy and our Workforce Development Challenge is giving Western New Yorker's the edge they need to succeed."

The WDC awardees foster workforce development in at least one of the region's target industry sectors, which include: advanced manufacturing, health & life sciences, tourism, clean energy, and agriculture. Round 2 was also expanded to include and fund tech-focused training. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation contributed an additional $1.5 million to the fund this round to build on the program's success. The grants will be administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and Empire State Development, New York State's chief economic development agency.

"Job training is a lot more than just a catch phrase - it literally means training for the jobs of the future - and without it, our workforce stagnates," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "I was proud to kick off Workforce Development Awareness Week in my hometown of Buffalo today because for me, this is personal. New Yorkers have been hit hard by the pandemic, but we are investing to make job training and career placement accessible for all and more inclusive. Today's investments are another tool in our build back better economy and making success accessible to all New Yorkers."

The $11.5 million Workforce Development Challenge program is designed to promote and invest in innovative approaches to workforce training for unemployed and underemployed populations throughout Western New York. The program will help increase the capacity of community-based trainers who have proven track records, trusted community relationships, and outstanding abilities for outreach and recruitment. In addition, it will support programs in the region's target sectors that are ripe for growth and have available in-demand jobs, by providing training for people who are unemployed and underemployed, as well as career ladder opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers. The program funds best-practice models that maximize collaboration between business and workforce trainers.

Projects to be Funded:

Trocaire College Technology Institute Career Reboot Program

Organization: Trocaire College

WDC Award Amount: $674,162

Description: Funding will be used to cover a 36-week pilot of an IT and cybersecurity training, its applicable certifications, and the related soft skill support services.

Project Location: Erie County

New Hope Innovative Career Center

Organization: Harvest House

WDC Award Amount: $379,822

Description: An expansion of the existing program that provides certificate-based, hands-on training in health and life sciences along with soft and life skills training and support.

Project Location: Erie County

Beginning Farmer Training Program

Organization: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County

WDC Award Amount $250,088

Description: Funding will expand the Beginning Farmer Training Program, a certificate program to help underemployed and employed agriculture workers seeking upskilling and career advancement. The program uses classroom instruction, hands-on training, and wraparound services to provide students with the knowledge and industry connections necessary to take farm products from seed to sale.

Project Location: Niagara Falls and Lockport, Niagara County.

Advancement Training for Healthcare Occupations (ATHOS): A Rural Innovative Training Opportunity

Organization: WNY Rural Area Health Education Center Inc.

WDC Award Amount: $150,000

Description: Funding will complete the development of a curriculum, implement program delivery, and provide support services for the training program that provides care coordination training in rural, medically underserved communities and the local healthcare industry. The program provides training through direct classroom experience, online through an eLearning platform, or as a hybrid program.

Project Location: Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties.

Future funding rounds will be announced in the coming months. Additional information can be found here.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "By promoting and investing in innovative and results-oriented approaches, the Workforce Development Challenge is helping to ensure Western New York's talent pool is keeping up with the higher-demand, higher-paying jobs that are a sign of the region's continued growth and transformation."

The state has already made significant investments in workforce development efforts to address the gap between the supply of labor and industry needs. Applying research and best practices learned through these efforts, the WDC program will leverage and build upon existing workforce development efforts and will upskill underserved populations to meet the needs of growing industry sectors—providing and increasing workforce opportunities throughout Western New York.

More information on Workforce Development Awareness Week and New York State's leading role to expand opportunities for New Yorkers, can be found here. The State has created the historic Workforce Development Initiative to provide in-demand employment skills and training, made unprecedented efforts to improve college affordability for all New Yorkers, and established an Executive Office of Workforce Development - which will help New Yorkers find fulfillment as part of the workforce and keep our momentum moving forward as we continue to build a more robust and resilient economy in our state.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency ( The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please and

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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