A grant opportunity for Virginia Small Businesses to support employee transition back into the workforce.

Through funding from the office of Governor Northam, the Return to Earn Grant Program provides a match (up to $500 per eligible new hire) of hiring bonuses paid by eligible Shenandoah Valley small businesses to provide new hires with up to $1,000 to support their transition back into the workforce. The Return to Earn Grant Program is available to Shenandoah Valley businesses with less than 100 employees statewide to provide a match of employer paid hiring bonuses paid directly to new employees hired between June 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021.

Return to Earn Grant Picture

Funding Requirements

  • The initiative will provide a match (up to $500 per eligible new hire) that a qualifying small business pays directly to a new employee hired after May 31st, 2021, with a maximum reimbursement of 25 new hires per employer.  (Qualifying small childcare businesses, who may be facing particularly challenging workforce shortages, may qualify for up to $500 per new hire without the requirement to match).

  • Employer must initially cover the full amount of hiring bonus and provide the funds directly to new hires prior to requesting a reimbursement. Payment to the employee can be either one lump sum or in installments to cover the ongoing costs of childcare, transportation, or other barriers to re-employment. Verification of how funds are used by the new hire is not required. Employer must include proof of  date hired and hiring bonus paid to the employee with the request for reimbursement.

  • Only employers with fewer than 100 employees across all Virginia locations qualify for a hiring bonus match.  The employment facility where new hires will be placed must be located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the employer must be incorporated in Virginia.

  • Wages for new hires must be a minimum of $15.00 per hour. The position must be W-2 employment but can be part- or full-time. Only new employees hired by the employer between June 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 are eligible. The maximum hiring bonus match is $500 per employee.  The individual hired must be unemployed at the time of hire (as attested by the individual) to be eligible for a hiring bonus match.

Application Process

  • Employer completes and signs Return to Earn Application and Agreement and submits to Joan Hollen, SVWDB Representative, jhollen@vcwvalley.com, 540-442-7134 ext. 100.

  • The application is reviewed and approved or denied based on eligibility guidelines.

  • Employer is notified of grant award or denial.

  • If awarded, the Employer submits a reimbursement request form for each eligible employee receiving a hiring bonus along with proof of hiring bonus payment to the employee and date employee was hired.

NOTE:  Reimbursement request forms must be submitted in a timely manner as hiring bonuses are paid to the employee.  This will allow the SVWDB to track grant fund expenditures and provide accurate monthly reporting to the state.  The grant concludes on December 31, 2021 and all reimbursement requests must be received by January 15, 2022.

Required Documentation 

The following information will be requested from the employer in the Application for Funding.  Upon execution of the application by both parties, the Application will serve as the formal Agreement for Funding between the employer and the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board.

  • Employer Name
  • Employer ID
  • Employer Representative authorized to enter into agreement, including position title
  • Employer Representative’s contact information
  • Current number of employees at the company (must be less than 100 statewide)
  • Confirmation that hiring wages are at or above $15.00 per hour
  • Attestation from the individual being hired that they were unemployed at the time of hire.
  • Self-attestation by employer that the employer is not currently disbarred from receiving federal or state funds and that the employer is current on all state obligations
  • Employer must be able to provide records of employees hired who received funding support through the Return to Earn grant including employee hiring date, hourly wages, position title and classification (Part or Full Time), the total amount provided by the employer to the employee as incentive to hire and over what time period the hiring incentive was paid.
  • The agreement includes language that the funds will be rescinded and collection action will be initiated if future audit activity determines violation of any terms of the agreement, including any false statements.

Submission Forms & Instructions

Eligible employers can request funding through the Return to Earn Grant Program by completing the forms linked below.

Return to Earn Grant Application/Agreement

Return to Earn Request for Reimbursement

SUBMIT APPLICATION TO:  Joan Hollen, jhollen@vcwvalley.com or mail to Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, 1076 Jefferson Highway, Staunton, VA 24401.  For additional information or questions, contact Joan Hollen by email or phone 540-442-7134 ext. 100.