NCWorks Local Innovation Fund

The NCWorks Local Innovation Fund is supporting efforts by communities across North Carolina to meet workforce challenges through a competitive grant process.

As part of Governor Roy Cooper’s NC Job Ready initiative, the $2 million fund is financing grants to communities to pilot innovative programs or adapt and replicate successful program models that address local or regional workforce issues.

The fund supports projects that do one or more of the following:

  • Address an underserved community or population currently disconnected from the education and workforce system;
  • Bring together diverse community organizations;
  • Increase educational attainment;
  • Develop talent pipelines for in-demand, high-wage occupations.

To be eligible for grants, community teams must include the local workforce development board and should also include education, community, labor and business leaders.

Two types of grants have been made available:

  • One-year “capacity grants” of up to $100,000 to assist communities that need additional capacity building to strengthen partnerships, identify community needs and resources, and build local support; and
  • Two-year “implementation grants” of up to $400,000 to assist communities that already have a collaborative team and an innovative idea ready for implementation, and have built the local support needed to be successful.

The Local Innovation Fund is an initiative of the NCWorks Commission, while the Division of Workforce Solutions within the N.C. Department of Commerce helps administer the fund. The 33-member NCWorks Commission includes representatives from the business community, heads of state workforce agencies, educators and community leaders. The Commission, which is designated as the state’s Workforce Development Board under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, recommends policies and strategies to enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy.



  • October 2018: Fund is announced, grant application is released
  • November 30, 2018: Grant applications are due (by 5 p.m.)
  • February 2019: Grant awards are announced
  • Spring 2019: Kick-off meeting for grantees with Innovation Advisory Team
  • October 2019: Grantees’ meeting
  • TBD: Final grantees’ meeting
  • TBD: Grant period ends


First, check out this list of Frequently Asked Questions.

E-mail the Commission at