Department Of Labor & Industry Invites Community Organizations To Help Eliminate Barriers To Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation System
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today announced $2.5 million in grant funding available to community-based organizations that share the Wolf Administration's goal of helping Pennsylvania workers learn about, apply for and -- if eligible -- receive Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits.
The funding, awarded to Pennsylvania through a competitive federal grant process in June, will also support L&I's efforts to deliver timely UC benefits to workers, especially individuals in groups that are historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.
"Our UC system served as a lifeline for thousands of Pennsylvanians during the height of the pandemic, distributing more than $48.5 billion and ensuring that families had food on the table, that rent was paid and that lights were kept on. But not everyone in their time of need is aware of our services or able to access them," Secretary Berrier said. "With this federal grant, L&I and its community partners will work to eliminate barriers faced by historically marginalized communities and ensure all eligible workers, regardless of background, receive the support they need to overcome economic hardship. These federal dollars will bolster the Wolf Administration's commitment to developing true equity in access to Pennsylvania's UC system."
Through these community partnerships, the UC Navigator Grant is designed to improve UC access for all Pennsylvania workers, but especially the following groups:
- immigrants and refugees in Pennsylvania's biggest urban centers – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
- individuals in low-income communities with limited access or familiarity with technology
- individuals with disabilities
Funds awarded to community organizations may be used for outreach and education (classes, workshops, seminars), educational equipment, staffing, training, and vendor costs (translation services, print/mail).
Selected organizations will be trained by L&I staff on various aspects of the UC system, including initial applications, weekly certifications, appeals, and identity verification. L&I will also work with the community-based organizations to develop printed and web-based materials that will be translated into various languages and designed to address common questions and concerns from marginalized communities.
"In times of unexpected unemployment, workers often seek help from organizations in their community that they trust and know – especially in times of economic uncertainty and high unemployment," said L&I Deputy Secretary for Unemployment Compensation, Susan Dickinson. "L&I has a long history of collaborating with community organizations to serve the public, and we see this grant program as an opportunity to strengthen those relationships and deliver better service to Pennsylvanians."
The deadline for community organizations to apply for the UC Navigator Grant funding is August 22, 2022 at 4:00 PM. Applications must be submitted to RA-IUCGRANTSUBMIS@pa.gov with the email subject: "UC Navigator Program NGA Application." Contracts will begin October 2, 2022 and run through March 31, 2025.
In mid-June, L&I announced the Wolf Administration's success in securing the $3 million federal grant, with Pennsylvania just one of seven states awarded grant money by the U.S. Department of Labor.
This is the second time in recent months that the Wolf Administration has secured federal funding to promote equitable access to Pennsylvania's UC system. Governor Wolf announced in March that L&I had been awarded $6.8 million from the DOL for projects aimed at promoting equitable access to the UC program. More than $3.5 million of the awarded funds are being used to offer in-person services for UC claimants available by appointment at PA CareerLink® locations throughout the commonwealth. L&I began rolling out those services in May with staff currently serving at 60 locations – L&I will continue to add CareerLink® locations.