WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) introduced the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act, which would establish a fund through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act dedicated to providing wrap-around support services and stipends for individuals in workforce training programs and two-year education programs. This funding would help expand access to these training programs by ensuring that participating individuals can cover everyday living costs.
“Education and workforce training programs are critical to advancing economic opportunity across the country, but many individuals face significant barriers to starting or completing these programs beyond just tuition. The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act will provide a dedicated stream of funding to cover costs such as housing, child care, and transportation – reducing financial barriers that would prevent individuals from pursuing or completing these programs,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “This legislation will directly invest in American workers - helping to ensure that more people have access to high-quality jobs, grow our workforce pipeline, and build a stronger economy.”
The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act would establish a new competitive grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) dedicated exclusively to providing support services to individuals receiving education and workforce training. State and local workforce development boards would be able to apply for grants from the Department of Labor and would be required to demonstrate how they will partner with services providers or other organizations to provide specific support services.
These WIOA programs cover a range of training and education services such as occupational skills training and education; pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, other on-the-job training; skills upgrading and retraining; and adult education and literacy activities, such as English language or basic math classes.
The scope of support services that could be provided under this grant is broad, designed to ensure that local boards can establish partnerships and provide support services to best meet the needs of the local area. This includes assistance with transportation, child care or dependent care, and housing; linkages to community services; referrals to health care services; assistance with uniforms or other appropriate work attire and related tools, such as eyeglasses and protective gear; and legal aid services.
The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act is endorsed by several organizations including: YouthCare, Renton Technical College, South Seattle College, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), and ANEW.
A fact sheet about the bill can be found here.
The full text of the bill can be found here.
See below for statements of support for the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act.
“In our work with young people experiencing homelessness, we see the critical importance of addressing workforce development holistically. This means not only providing training and education, but also ensuring that our clients have access to the other essential services that they need to stabilize, learn, and grow. We are grateful to Representative Smith for recognizing that resources like childcare, health care, housing, and transportation are a critical component of meeting our shared goal of living wage careers for all Washingtonians.” - Audra Laymon, Senior Director of Engagement & Workforce Services, YouthCare
YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and empowered to achieve their potential.
“This is crucial legislation to serve our workforce and support the economic and civic drivers in our communities.  Not only will these funds assist in defraying challenges of housing, transportation, and childcare, but will also connect students to health care, legal aid, and other community services. Students benefiting from these services are much more likely to complete the training for which they are well qualified and passionate.” - Kevin McCarthy, President, Renton Technical College
Renton Technical College is a nationally recognized college committed to helping their diverse student population succeed. Their 66 percent completion rate is the highest in the state among community and technical colleges – and among the highest in the country. And 82 percent of RTC graduates are employed nine months after graduation.
“Education and training outcomes increase exponentially when students also have access to wrap around support services that help provide a stable foundation to focus on learning. These support services are exactly the critical needs for many of our students along their career pathway to living-wage jobs.” - Veronica Davis, Executive Dean of Professional Technical and Workforce Education, South Seattle College
Established in 1969 and located on an 87-acre hilltop campus in West Seattle, South Seattle College offers panoramic views of the city skyline and surrounding mountains. This unique setting serves as a portal of opportunity for students with diverse needs to meet their educational and career goals. 
“Our national workforce system is intended to help working people advance in their careers and achieve economic stability. Unfortunately, many job seekers with low-incomes, especially Black and Latinx workers, immigrants, opportunity youth and individuals impacted by the criminal legal system are unable to access the supports they need to succeed,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “The ‘Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act’ will help workers who face multiple structural barriers to employment get access to the supportive services they need to complete workforce training and education programs that can lead to higher paying jobs. We applaud Representative Smith for again introducing this important legislation.”
CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty nonprofit advancing policy solutions to improve the lives of people with low incomes. CLASP develops practical yet visionary strategies for reducing poverty, promoting economic opportunity, and addressing institutional and racial barriers faced by people of color.