Womens Bureau: Fostering Access, Rights, and Equity (US)
The Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), partnering with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), announces an opportunity for states and territories to participate in the Fostering Access, Rights, and Equity (FARE) grant initiative.
This program will allow award recipients to undertake projects to assist underserved and marginalized low-income women workers in understanding and accessing their employment rights, public services, and benefits.
The grants will build on the successes of recent promising initiatives to enlist trusted messengers and community groups to reach working women, including but not limited to women of color, women with disabilities, and justice-involved women.
The FARE initiative, which provides funding to state or territory agencies partnering with community-based organizations serving low-wage women workers, will allow these partnerships to undertake key program activities.
The primary purpose of these grants is to provide crucial outreach, education, and improved benefits access and must be used for:
Outreach to vulnerable, low-income, and marginalized women workers.
Dissemination of educational materials through varied platforms, including social media, in-person or virtual events, brochures and leaflets, one-on-one consultations, and other outreach.
Benefits navigator and benefits calculator services.
Connecting and referring women workers to additional services, benefits, and/or legal assistance as needed, reasonable, and/or available.
Helping women to become focal points for rights, benefits, and assistance in their own communities (i.e., a train-the-trainer model for navigation).
Areas of Focus
The applicant’s proposed project must address one of the following areas of focus:
Paid Family and Medical Leave/Sick Leave – Nine states plus the District of Columbia have state laws for paid family and medical leave. Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia and 37 cities have enacted laws requiring paid sick days. Women workers are not always aware of the laws providing paid sick and family leave or how to access the leave. The grantee can provide additional outreach and education, plus facilitate benefit access.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Awareness of the FMLA’s benefits has increased over time since its passage in 1993, but there is still work to be done. A recent study found that while 76 percent of workers surveyed have heard of it, many misunderstood their eligibility for leave. Women workers often are more likely to bear the burden of caring for children and other family members and could benefit from greater understanding and access to FMLA leave.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) – Women don’t always know that they qualify for the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit benefits. Recent changes to the CTC, which currently last for one year and may be a monthly rather than annual payment, rely on a 2020 tax filing, which may be challenging and confusing for some workers. In addition, because the rules are complicated and claimants are frequently audited by the IRS, free tax help is vitally important.
Harassment – On-the-job harassment is widespread and studies have estimated it affects a large number of women in the workplace. As a result, women often experience physical and mental health problems, career interruptions, and lower earnings, among other negative consequences.
Wage payment/Overtime/Classification – Low-income women often are fearful about raising issues about proper payment of wages for fear of retaliation or losing their jobs, and could benefit from information and assistance from trusted intermediaries.
Pay Equity and Pay Transparency – Women continue to earn less than men and pay transparency is a vital tool to help close the gap. Although federal law and many state laws protect the right to discuss salaries, many employers discourage the practice, preventing workers from being paid fairly. Women workers could benefit from outreach, education, and assistance on these issues.
Unemployment Insurance – Many low-income women workers have seen their unemployment benefits held up or are uncertain if they are eligible. In some cases, they may also need help finding legal representation.
Health Care – Community health workers, including Promotores (community health workers who work in Spanish-speaking communities), help vulnerable communities get access to needed services. Most recently, community health workers have assisted with COVID-19 information and access to testing and vaccines in rural and urban areas for undocumented and marginalized communities.
Eligible Benefits under the American Rescue Plan – Cash assistance and worker protection policies passed under last year’s COVID response packages went woefully under-utilized.
The Women’s Bureau expects availability of approximately $1.5 million to fund between four to six grants, with a minimum value of $250,000. Applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of $350,000.
The period of performance is 18 months.
Only State Governments, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible to apply for these grants.
For more information, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=334178