Governor Northam Launches Return to Earn Grant Program to Help Virginians Transition Back to Work

Today, unemployed Virginians are facing a variety of childcare, transportation and other barriers to returning to the workforce while some small businesses are struggling to find workers. To support Virginians in their transition back to employment, Governor Ralph Northam will invest $3 million to pilot the Return to Earn Grant Program.

The pilot initiative will match up to $500 that a qualifying small business pays directly to a new employee hired on or after May 31, 2021. Funds will only be reimbursed for new hires in positions that pay at least $15 per hour and qualify as W-2 employment, either full- or part-time. Qualifying small childcare businesses, who may be facing particularly challenging workforce shortages, may qualify for up to $500 per new hire without the requirement to match.

“Many Virginians who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic still face a variety of barriers to returning to work like access to affordable child care, transportation, and a living wage. These bonuses will serve as an incentive for unemployed workers to get back into the workforce while also helping employers fill vacant jobs. The Virginia Return to Earn Grant Program is about empowering the true catalysts of our economic comeback – Virginia’s workers and small businesses.” – Governor Ralph Northam

For additional information on requirements and to apply for Return to Earn grant funding, small businesses should contact their local workforce development board, and interested applicants can click here to view FAQs about the new program.

“For Virginia to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic on our economy, we need targeted solutions. One in three Virginia workers has applied for unemployment benefits over the course of the pandemic. The new Return to Earn Grant Program will accomplish a dual purpose of helping unemployed Virginias transition back into living wage jobs, particularly in the child care industry, and supporting small businesses with their hiring needs.” – Dr. Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor

Click here to view the full press release!