The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $5,192,500 National Emergency Grant to the Hazard-based Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) to assist workers and their families impacted by layoffs at coal mining companies in Eastern Kentucky.
The funding will further power EKCEP’s Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) initiative, which is providing re-employment services not only for miners who are laid off but for their spouses who have been homemakers and are, due to the loss of wages, seeking to enter the workforce to support their families.
“When families lose their entire source of income, they often need more than one job to make ends meet,” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. “This grant from the Labor Department will help prepare both displaced miners and their spouses for new employment in Eastern Kentucky’s growing industries.”
The grant will provide eligible laid-off miners and spouses with training and other services—all at no cost—that they need to compete for employment in other industries throughout the area, such as business services, telecommunications, construction and skill trades, energy creation and transmission, healthcare, and others.
“EKCEP is very pleased that the U.S. Department of Labor has funded our request for a National Emergency Grant,” said EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead. “We’re also very appreciative of the support U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear have demonstrated for our H.O.M.E. initiative, which this grant will fund to its fullest extent.”
Working with partner Community Action Agencies across the region, EKCEP has already signed up nearly 500 out-of-work miners and their spouses in the H.O.M.E. initiative. Through H.O.M.E., these individuals are receiving expert career advising, job placement assistance, and training referral and enrollment.
“Thanks to this grant, we look forward to connecting with even more laid-off miners, as well as our region’s employers to find hiring and on-the-job training opportunities for our enrolled miners,” Whitehead said.
EKCEP is a nonprofit workforce development organization that provides federally funded jobseeker and employer services in a service area of 23 Appalachian Kentucky counties.
Since January 2012, layoffs have left more than 2,000 miners and coal employees in that service area out of work and searching for new employment.
According to the terms of the award, of the $5,192,500 announced, $3,787,017 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as EKCEP demonstrates a continued need for assistance.
For more information on how to enroll in H.O.M.E., visit www.homeeky.com or call, toll free, 1-855-HOME-690. Like EKCEP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ekcep to stay on top of all upcoming H.O.M.E. Open Enrollment Event announcements in the region.