Upskilling & Professional Development Grants
Two Ten Upskilling & Professional Development Grants are designed to empower employees and help employers retain knowledgeable, experienced professionals. The grants provide financial assistance to footwear employees who want to pursue job-focused skills training, obtain professional certifications or complete other types of professional development opportunities to advance their careers.
Currently, this program is prioritizing underrepresented employee populations, starting with women. Ultimately grants will be available to additional segments of the workforce, but the first wave of this grant funding targets the Women in the Footwear Industry (WIFI) community. This reflects Two Ten’s commitment to helping more women move into leadership roles across the footwear industry as well as the fact that women were hit hard by pandemic disruptions. Female heads of households represented 70% of the hardship and crisis relief applications Two Ten processed in the past three years.
Two Ten has long offered college scholarships to footwear employees but the WIFI Professional Development Grant is a less time-intensive opportunity for busy working women to level up in key areas, from polishing their communications skills to earning Microsoft certificates to completing a professional certification.
About the WIFI Professional Development Grants
- How much is the grant? Awards will vary based on the professional development opportunity approved.
- What does the grant cover? Tuition and fees for an online, self-paced course deemed relevant to an applicant’s desired career path in the footwear industry.
- What is the stipend? There is an option to apply for a stipend to help with the cost of childcare or eldercare while studying. This is an additional, needs-based award that is paid directly to the grantee when they begin an approved course.
- Is the grant needs-based? No, the WIFI grant itself is not need-based. Eligibility for an additional stipend for childcare or eldercare, however, is determined based on income and household size.
- Who is eligible? If you identify as a woman, are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and have worked in the footwear industry for at least 12 months you can apply for a WIFI grant. You need not be an active member of the Two Ten WIFI community (though we hope you’ll consider joining footwear colleagues at a local or national WIFI event).
- Are there any other requirements? Applicants for WIFI grants will need to complete pre- and post- consultations with a career coach. An applicant will be matched with a coach and must speak with the coach prior to receiving a grant. Upon course completion, grant recipients must have a follow-up conversation with their coach.
- What courses are offered? Applicants can select from a list of recommended online courses offered by a variety of colleges and universities or they can propose a course that’s not listed by providing some details about the online learning opportunity they want to pursue and how it will help them in their footwear career.
- Can I use the grant to complete a degree program? The grant may be used for a course leading to a professional certification but it is not intended to cover costs related to an undergraduate or graduate degree.
- When can I apply? Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.
- How do I nominate someone? Visit twoten.org/nominate to make a nomination. It’s an easy way to refer any colleagues who may be interested to this program. Anyone you nominate will receive information about the program. You can also nominate yourself and we’ll send you a reminder with a link to the online application.
- How often can I apply for a grant? WIFI grant recipients who’d like to take another course through this program will be able to apply for another grant once they’ve completed their previously approved course. Returning applicants must simply demonstrate successful completion of the previously approved course.