The Inclusive Economy
CFED Publishes Advocates’ Guide to Self-Employment Assistance Program Expansion
By Katherine Lucas McKay on 06/28/2012 @ 10:15 AM
Last month, the Department of Labor (DOL) sent a Guidance Letter to each state’s economic development and workforce agencies about $35 million in grant funding available for states to establish or expand Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) Programs. Today, CFED has published an advocacy guide to help microenterprise and asset-building advocates take advantage of these new resources (link).
SEA is a federal program that allows states to offer entrepreneurship training to unemployed workers who are interested in starting their own businesses. This proven program has had only been adopted by a few states because the process to opt in can be very difficult, requiring an act of the state legislature. Over the past few years, CFED worked with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to develop a proposal to expand SEA and make it easier for states to participate. Many elements of our proposal became law in February when Sen. Wyden included it in Unemployment Insurance legislation that Congress passed in February.
This policy has the potential to help thousands of unemployed workers launch businesses while receiving unemployment benefits and training to help their businesses succeed. It can also help microenterprise development organizations across the nation expand their services through partnerships with state workforce agencies.
States can apply for the grant funds any time between now and June 30, 2013. In order to receive an award, however, a state must have an SEA program. Our advocacy guide includes a step-by-step breakdown of what advocates need to know. The guide details:
- How to persuade state agencies to opt in to SEA and apply for funding
- Recommendations for effective partnerships with the workforce development field
- Where to start, based on your state’s current SEA status
- Links to a variety of additional resources from DOL and some of our partners. The nation has been struggling with an unemployment rate higher than eight percent for more than three years and nearly half of all unemployed workers have been out of work for more than six months. For some job seekers, starting a business provides a way to create their own jobs.
We encourage you to read the guide and get in touch with us if you put it into action! If you have any questions about the guide, SEA or other microenterprise and self-employment resources, please contact Federal Policy Analyst Katherine Lucas-Smith.