Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC)

The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative, managed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), provides grant funds to support workforce development activities that prepare workers for good jobs in high-demand occupations in rural communities. Beginning with WORC Round 5 (2023), the Northern Border was added to the partnership with DOL, which also includes the Appalachian Regional Commission and The Delta Regional Authority. The program supports initiatives directed at workforce development partnerships in support of local and regional workforces’ employment and training needs, while also recognizing the need to expand access to supportive services. 

NBRC partners with the Department of Labor to provide grantees with technical assistance to promote successful projects and strong outcomes for workers and businesses. Unlike other NBRC grant programs, the WORC Initiative is administered exclusively between the Department of Labor and NBRC. State Program Managers are not the primary support for applicants to the WORC program. Interested applicants are invited to submit questions to NBRC’s technical assistance provider, Chamberlin/Dunn at or  

WORC-funded grantees are meeting the goals of the initiative through a wide range of strategies, including:

  • The development of education, training, and work-based learning opportunities for new entrants, incumbent workers, and dislocated workers
  • Incentives and wraparound services that support the completion of training and placement in good jobs
  • Employer engagement, including the development of recovery-friendly ecosystems and support for employing other special populations

On September 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority and Northern Border Regional Commission announced more than $44MM in awards.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for WORC 6 is scheduled to be released on April 2, 2024.

NBRC will continue to update its website with information on future opportunities as they become available.