Grants help lodges boost their training budgets

For a cache of free money for your local lodge’s training program, consider applying for grants. That’s what Local 92 (Los Angeles), Local 13 (Philadelphia) and the Northeast Area Apprenticeship Program have all done.

“Over the past couple of years, we have received numerous grants from the state,” said L-92 apprentice coordinator Alfredo Leyva. “We received these grants through the California Apprenticeship Council, Department of Industrial Relations on eight occasions since 2009.”

Leyva said the awards have varied from $15,000 to as high as $34,000 per year. The grants can be used for anything that’s related to the apprenticeship, including training and equipment. Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program Coordinator Mark Wertz encourages locals to apply for training grants to help fund apprenticeship training.

“Check with your state,” Wertz said. “The state grants are very focused on jobs in their state. There's a large amount of money available, how could it not be in our best interest to try to capture what we can?”

Local 13 needed extra teaching hands for their apprenticeship program. So the local applied for a grant and received one through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

“This grant will be for a dedicated weld instructor,” said Matt Fink, L-13 apprenticeship coordinator. “We have anywhere from 75 to 85 apprentices. It’s very hectic. The grant will allow for us to have a dedicated weld instructor at certain times of the year when we’re training heavily.”

Fink said the grant money is giving the local three years of an extra training instructor, on a part-time basis. He found the grant through Pennsylvania’s website and advises other lodges to look at their state to determine what is offered.

“It’s definitely helpful to have an extra body to teach,” Fink said. “We need to sell ourselves and to do that we must be the most highly trained craft. And to train, we need money.”

But what about the time and work required to write the grant to apply for the money? How much experience does someone need?

“I would say zero percent,” Fink said. “I’ve never done this.” He said it was work, but that all the time and effort was worth it. “It was a very minimal amount of work for the amount of money we got.”

But if locals don’t have the time needed to write the grant, there are grant writers that can be hired on an hourly basis to do the required writing and research.

NEAAC Administrator Jason Dupuis and Kathy McComb, BNAP’s technical assistant, worked together to write a recently awarded New York state grant of $270,000.

Dupuis said as NEAAC administrator, he gets a lot of emails from the New York Department of Labor, and one day an email with the words “clean energy” caught his eye. And after reading through the information, he realized the work the Boilermakers perform fit within the grant parameters. Members built Maid of the Mist electric boats at Niagara Falls and are currently working a hydrogen job in upstate New York—both “clean energy.”

This grant money will pay for all-in-one welding machines and a milling machine, the big-ticket item. With the milling machine, NEAAC will be able to supply locals with welding coupons, much cheaper and quicker than the status quo.

“Without the grant, we can’t afford to buy something like that,” Dupuis said. “It’s a game changer. In the end we’re going to have better trained welders because they’re spending more time welding and not prepping coupons.”

McComb said that there’s a lot of grant money out there on both the state and federal level, but there’s a lot more paperwork on the federal level. She said it’s also easier to develop personal relationships with people issuing state grants.

“Make it make sense to the person you’re applying to,” she said. “And develop relationships. If you can get a person to listen to you, that’s going to help the process.”  

There are grants available for every aspect of apprentice training. But the first step in the process is identifying where the grants are. There are several places you can look.
  1. The Department of Labor provides grants to support apprenticeship programs across the country at
  2. The ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants and American Apprenticeship Initiative grants are designed to expand and diversify apprenticeship programs in the United States. Visit and search for “grants.”
  3. Many private foundations and companies, such as Duke Energy, also provide grants for apprenticeship programs. Research foundations focused on workforce development or education.
  4. Many state and local governments provide grants to support apprenticeship programs. Contact your state or local government's workforce development office to learn more about the grant programs available in your area.
  5. The federal government website not only has grants available but also help with grant writing and additional resources.
  6. The foundation arm of the American Welding Society offers grants for training welders at