Frequently Asked Questions

Updated Feb. 26, 2019
What is considered an employer partner?

An employer partner is a member of a Talent Consortium that is operationally and significantly involved in, and contributes to, providing experiences to students and/or contributes resources to further the goals of the Talent Consortium.

Is there a maximum amount of grant dollars that a Talent Consortium may apply for?

No, however; each school district or intermediate school district (ISD) is limited to the following competitive grant caps. 

  • Tier 1 School (ISD or per pupil membership of at least 3,800) = $500,000 total
  • Tier 2 School (per pupil membership of at least 1,400 and less than 3,800) = $300,000 total
  • Tier 3 School (per pupil membership of less than 1,400) = $200,000 total
Explain how a smaller school district or medium-sized school district can partner with other school districts to apply for more funding?

Each school district or intermediate school district (ISD) is limited to the following competitive grant caps (as outlined in question 2).

However, if a Tier 2 or Tier 3 school district partners with other school districts or an ISD, the funding cap would be based on the total combined per pupil count and each district would then be eligible for that higher tier amount. 

Or, if a Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 school district were to form a Talent Consortium with the required two business partners and other community members, the talent consortium could apply for a total funding request of $1.5 million as part of the competitive grant application.  The end result would be each school district would be eligible for $500,000 at the Tier 1 rate.

Can the same entity submit more than one grant proposal? 

We will only accept one proposal per talent consortia. However, if your district or ISD is part of more than one Talent Consortium, one application per the consortia and one for the district or ISD is allowable. We would strongly encourage your district or ISD to focus on one grant application and not participate in both a consortium and separate application. 

While Talent Consortia may only submit one proposal for the first round of funding, a Talent Consortium previously granted funding may add other school districts or ISDs to be part of the Consortium. Additionally, those not awarded from the first round of funding may amend the original application and resubmit for additional consideration.

Can the grants be used for substitute teachers?   

No. The competitive grants for competency-based education, under Section 297a (2) of Public Act 227 of 2018 do not allow the grant funds to be used to cover the costs for substitute teachers. 

Can the innovative grant funds be used for adult learning only programs?

No. The law requires the grant funds for competency-based education programs to be focused on K-12 programs that result in expanding or creating pupil experiences that lead to competencies or credentials, or both, in high-demand fields.  Curriculum developed and/or equipment purchased or leased may be shared and used for adult learners. 

Will the grants require demonstration of equity for all students and how?

Yes, there is a requirement in the Talent Agreement to demonstrate how students will be selected to participate in programs offered by the talent consortium. The Talent Agreement will require demonstration of equity in opportunities for all students to have access to the competency-based curriculum, equipment, innovative teachers or career coaching staff hired with the funds.

Does a Talent Consortium have to include employers for all sections of the grant funding requests, including competency-based education, career navigators and equipment?

Yes. The law (PA 227 of 2018) is clear that any funding requests by a talent consortium must include employer partner(s).  The law states - A Talent Consortium must include at least one district or intermediate district and at least two employers or organizations representing employers. However, a talent consortium with only one district that is a Tier 3 district is not required to include more than 1 employer or organization representing employers. A Talent Consortium may include a private training provider that grants degrees or certificates and is located in this state, community colleges, colleges or universities. A Talent Consortium is not bound by size or geographic locations in this state.

For the Talent Consortium members and metrics for the Concept Summary – may a government entity and/or post-secondary partner also count as an employer partner?

In the vast majority of cases, no. However, one could imagine that a governmental entity could serve as an employer if that entity has a bona fide need. For example, a large university hospital may be experiencing a shortage in the medical field or a large municipal government may require IT talent. In these cases, whether or not these entities are considered employer partners will depend on their involvement in the Talent Consortium. If they act as an employer partner (for instance, by providing internships, job opportunities, etc.) then they could be considered an employer partner.  Note: State departments and/or agencies acting as an employer are not eligible to add points to grant scoring.

Remember: What matters are the nature and depth of the partnership. It is not enough that an entity that happens to employ citizens signs a letter of support. Partners must be operationally involved in, and significantly contribute to, the Talent Consortium.

What are the grant metrics?

The grant metrics are defined in the talent agreement through a series of 18 questions Talent Consortia will be required to answer. You can view a sample Talent Agreement on the website. Remember to keep the following points in mind:

  • Demonstrate strong partnerships between talent consortium members that will address a specific high-demand, high-wage talent shortage. Talent Consortia need to collaborate to provide innovative experiences for students.
  • Adopt the philosophies of competency-based learning. The Marshall Plan seeks to move Michigan to a more competency-based approach to learning.
  • Explain how partners work together to create a seamless education system – from K-12 through post-secondary and into the workplace – that leads to a stackable workforce credential in a high-demand field.
What access do very large/small districts have to Marshall Plan funds?  

The law (PA 227 of 2018) requires that 20 percent of grant dollars are awarded to Tier 3 districts, 30 percent to Tier 2 districts and 50 percent to districts with more than 3,800 pupils.

For the equipment grant, there is a requirement of at least 25 percent matching funds, which may be in-kind donations. 

Will Talent Consortia have to provide annual reports and what will the MDE reporting requirements entail?

As required by the law, each recipient of a grant under this article shall provide a report to the Michigan Department of Education not later than June 30, 2020, that identifies the amount of the grant received, how the grant was spent, the number of pupils reached with grant funds and other information as required by the department

How many funding buckets must a Talent Consortium apply for (1. competency-based education instruction for high-demand fields, school-wide; 2. competency-based learning; 3. talent equipment program; and 4. career navigator program) under the Innovation Grants?

A Consortium can apply for any or all funding buckets. However, applicants must demonstrate how the project will provide a comprehensive plan to create or expand competency-based education that result in competencies or credentials, or both, in high-demand fields. The law requires a consolidated grant application. 

Are there grant funds for brick and mortar?    


May grant funds be used for general administrative costs?   

No. General administrative costs are not allowed under statute. 

Grant funds may be used to hire full-time staff to create or expand a program in a high-demand field. In order to use funds for this purpose, the applicant must commit to continuing to provide the program for at least an additional three years following the final disbursement of funds. Programs must include a commitment to adopt the principles of a competency-based instructional model. Grant managers for the Marshall Plan for Talent will not be funded.

Can equipment costs include the cost of installation and delivery of the equipment?  

Yes, if the costs directly relate to the new equipment proposed for purchase or lease. Costs should be reasonable.     

Can equipment cover any books and related supplies and material?  What about maintenance?  

Equipment may cover training tangible assets such as computers, 3-D printers, servers, welders, CNC machines, robotics, drones or other equipment for the project to create pupil experiences that result in competencies or credentials, or both, in high-demand fields.  Instructional manuals and software related to the equipment may be included in the equipment costs. Equipment maintenance and consumable materials used for the training should be covered by the talent consortium and may be considered for the match requirement. 

Can federal funds be used for the equipment match requirement and are there exceptions for purchasing or use of employer in-kind match?

All laws, rules and regulations still apply for the procurement process so a school district or ISD would need to follow the usual procurement process.  

That stated, there is nothing limiting a member of the Talent Consortium purchasing on behalf of the school district or ISD. For example: An employer, community college or university could purchase the equipment to be used by the district for the proposed high-skill training and be reimbursed for the expenditure from the grant award if the grant application included the equipment as part of the proposal.  

An employer’s in-kind match can count towards the minimum 25 percent match requirement.  

For the career navigator funding, can grant funds be used for the first year at 100 percent of the staffing costs and then be phased out?

Yes. The talent consortium would need to show that the position will be supported for at least two years after the end of the three-year grant program as required by law. 

Could a career navigator be a contracted position with a Michigan Works! agency?

Yes. As required by the law, districts and ISD that use grant funds awarded under this subsection to hire staff for newly created positions shall commit to retain the positions for at least two years after the end of the three-year grant period. Grant funds awarded under this section must not be used to supplant existing counseling services within a district or ISD.

Could a career navigator be a part-time employee?  

Yes, however, this must be a newly created position. 

Can any member of the Talent Consortium be the fiscal agent?

No.  The fiscal agent must be a school district or ISD.  A Talent Consortium must have at least one school district or ISD as required by law.

The ISD or school district can have a MOU or contract with another member of the talent consortium such as a community college, Michigan Works! agency or the United Way to do the project management – or accounting for – the project.

Can the convener be an out-of-state company?

While the convener may be headquartered in another state, the convener should have a Michigan office or strong presence and partnerships in Michigan.  

Can a public school academy by the fiscal agent?

Yes – any recognized school district, which includes a public school academy, as defined by MCL 388.1603 (7).

How can I connect with Talent Consortiums in my area (geographically or by industry-specific talent needs)?

Some organizations interested in serving as a convener have added their contact information to a list we’ve published on This list was developed from survey responses and does not include all Talent Consortium conveners.




Will the Application Process for Round 2 be identical to Round 1?

YES, except for Converting to a Competency-Based Instruction Model. See next question.

Is this the last round of funding?

Not necessarily, but it’s possible. We encourage everyone to apply for Round 2. 

I would like more clarification as to what the application review team considers innovative.

New ideas or advanced/creative methods of delivering K-12 education programs that focus on creating competencies and earning credentials in high-demand fields by building real, sustainable, meaningful partnerships between business and education. 

Does a partnership with an established training provider and/or program help or hurt the application?

Applications are not scored on one partner, but on the collaborative efforts of multiple partners to meet the key objectives of the Marshall Plan for Talent.

Can a school or ISD be involved in more than one talent consortium? 

Yes, however, a school or ISD can NOT receive the maximum funding in MULTIPLE consortia. Maximum funding is per-school or ISD, not per Talent Consortium.

Can a new organization join a talent consortium that is already formed, but did not receive funding during Round 1?

Yes.  However, a new talent agreement must be submitted and approved by Ted.

Is it true that a proposal needs to focus on all areas of the Marshall Plan and would not be funded if it focused on certain parts and not every aspect of the grant application?

Talent Consortia do not have to apply for all four buckets of funding (Competency-Based Certification Programs, Professional Equipment Grants, Career Navigators and Converting to a Competency-Based Model). However, they must demonstrate a comprehensive overall strategy to meet the goals of Marshall Plan for Talent.

It seems like grants that were awarded in the last round impacted large numbers of students. Is this the only way to be awarded?

No. Innovations Grants include a tiered system to ensure equity.

How long can funds be utilized once awarded (timeline)?

The estimated completion date of the work project is September 30, 2022, in statute.

How is the connection between CTE and general education being addressed through Marshall Plan for Talent applications?

Through the pursuit and attainment of meaningful credentials from innovative ideas created by Consortia. 

Has the list of high-demand, high-wage jobs been revised (added to) at this point?

No. Check out the list TOP CAREERS AND ANNUAL SALARIES document to learn more.

If a member of a consortium is a Tier 2 school, can they write their own application for $300,000 and then submit an application with a larger combined consortium -- Tier 1 -- for $200,000?  

Yes, however, it is suggested to only submit one application. Those who apply for funds through multiple applications are still bound by the maximum funding allowed as outlined in the law. NOTE: Participation in multiple rounds does not raise the funding allowed per tier. For example, if a tier 1 school is funded $500,000 in Round 1, they are not eligible to apply for any more funds in future rounds. 

What is different about the Competency-Based Education (C-BE) application?

The C-BE application will no longer be part of the comprehensive grant application process. A talent consortium that ONLY applies for C-BE funding will not need to participate in Step 1 and Step 2. If you are applying for multiple grants and would also like to apply for C-BE, you will have to apply separately.

Requirements and C-BE grant application will remain the same:

  • Be a member of a talent consortium.

  • Convert an entire school or district to a competency-based learning model.

  • More information regarding the C-BE application process will be provided at a later date.

  • Partnerships with employers and postsecondary schools.

  • Plan to transition away from grade-level system.

  • Be an ambassador for C-BE.

More information regarding the C-BE application process will be provided at a later date.