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Golden LEAF unveils GLOW initiative to bolster workforce

The Golden LEAF Foundation is launching a new grant program that will provide $5 million for grants to nonprofits and governmental organizations to help adults facing barriers to employment.

It’s part of the organization’s new strategic initiative that revolves around increasing the state’s skilled workforce. It’s called GLOW: Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work.

“This initiative is in response to employers’ need to grow the pool of qualified workers for high-demand, full-time jobs,” said Golden LEAF Board Chair Bo Biggs in a press release.

Golden LEAF describes itself as “a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers.”

According to a program description for the new initiative, low unemployment and high job growth in North Carolina are challenging businesses as they seek workers from a relatively small supply. The description said that a recent survey showed that 50% of employers are having trouble hiring, and that the problem will only worsen as the state adds an estimated 389,000 new jobs by 2026.

In addition, the program description says that by 2030, 67% of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or credential, but that North Carolina is only slated to have about 54% of the workforce on that level given the current trajectory. 

Those organizations that receive the grant will help adults who struggle against barriers to employment, are underemployed, or who are unemployed long-term. The grants will help them update their skills or get post-secondary education.

“Golden LEAF’s vision is a North Carolina with opportunities for growth and prosperity for its people all across the state,” said Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott Hamilton, in a press release. “This initiative will provide essential training for people looking for work, meet industry’s needs for more qualified workers, and boost our economy.”

Hamilton was named to his role with Golden LEAF in September and is the third president the organization has had. Formerly, he was the executive director of the Appalachian Regional Commission, described in a Golden LEAF press release as “a Federal-State partnership with the mission to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.”

Hamilton is from Hendersonville and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

For GLOW, Golden LEAF is looking for applications from “501(c)(3) nonprofits or governmental entities with at least three years of experience helping this population obtain full-time work. Projects should show a comprehensive and collaborative approach to re-engaging people in the workforce and leverage existing federal, state, and local workforce development resources.”

Learn more about GLOW and find the application here.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.