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

Through funding from Governor Northam’s Office, the Return to Earn Grant Program, offers funding support to eligible Shenandoah Valley small businesses to provide new hires with up to $500 in hiring incentives to support their transition back into the workforce. The Return to Earn Grant Program will serve businesses with 99 or less employees that may not have the resources to provide this financial support.

This initiative will reimburse up to $500 in hiring incentives that a qualifying small business in the Shenandoah Valley pays directly to a new employee hired after May 31, 2021. Funds will only be reimbursed to businesses for new hires in positions that pay at least $15 per hour (tips included) and that qualify as W-2 employment, either full- or part-time.

UPDATE:  As of August 31, 2021, the new hire receiving the hiring bonus must have been previously unemployed for one month (30 calendar days) or longer as attested to by the new hire.  Additionally, the Return to Earn Grant no longer requires an employer match of the hiring bonus. 

Return to Earn Grant Picture

Funding Requirements

  • The initiative will provide a hiring bonus reimbursement of 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.

  • Employer must provide the hiring bonus directly to new hires. This can be in 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 provide 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 reimbursement.  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 (tips included). The position must be W-2 employment but can be part- or full-time. Funds may only be provided to new employees hired by the employer, and the individual hired must be currently unemployed (as attested by the individual).  As of August 31, 2021, the new hire receiving the hiring bonus must have been previously unemployed for one month (30 calendar days) or longer as attested to by the new hire.

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 April 1, 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.  As of August 31, 2021, the new hire receiving the hiring bonus must have been previously unemployed for one month (30 calendar days) or longer as attested to by the new 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.

THE RETURN TO EARN GRANT CONCLUDES ON DECEMBER 31, 2021.  APPLICATIONS RECEIVED AFTER 5:00 P.M., DECEMBER 31, 2021 WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR FUNDING.