LEAP program seeks to better link higher education, industry to enhance Drive to 55 effort
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the start of the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) competition, a state effort focused on increasing opportunities for Tennesseans to obtain a certificate or degree beyond high school that is aligned with the needs of the workforce in their communities.


The LEAP program, administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), is accepting applications from local collaboratives that seek to create new programs and/or acquire essential equipment aligned with the gaps in the local workforce.

“Our goal with the Drive to 55 is to encourage more Tennesseans to obtain a certificate or degree beyond high school, so that they can ultimately get better jobs and create better lives,” Haslam said. “The LEAP competition will create partnerships between employers and higher education institutions that will be an important step in making this goal a reality.”
Funded by a $10 million appropriation in the FY-2014-15 budget, the LEAP competition is open through November 17.  Applicants are eligible to apply for grants of up to $1,000,000.
Applicants must represent a partnership consisting of the following entities:
1)      A local economic development agency, chamber of commerce, or workforce board.
2)      A community college or college of applied technology (TCAT).
3)      The local K-12 school district.
4)      Two or more local employers with a demonstrated shortage of skilled workers.
Applicants are asked to submit their proposal in accordance with the Request for Proposals (RFP) available online at www.tn.gov/thec.
A selection committee consisting of representatives from higher education, the department of Economic and Community Development and the department of Labor will consider proposals and select those that most clearly meet the needs of current employers or serve as a catalyst to recruit new industry to the state.

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