Does anyone know of any federal aid or other assistance programs that would provide money for professional development for the unemployed or underemployed. I am not looking to attend college again, as I already have an MLA. I would like to renew my lapsed professional membership, take a SketchUp class, and attend the ASLA national conference but find that I just don't have the money to do these things. Any ideas?
Check with your local unemployment office. Most of the federal funds for professional development are distributed through them for "workforce development." I recently obtained my Green Roof Professional certification, both the classes and the exam, from a County workforce development grant with federal funds. It was a structured program (they had advertised the classes and the grant and there was an application process) and had a few LAs, architects, landscapers and a few general public persons qualify for the grants. I haven't heard of any grants to pay for whatever you want to do, and it is doubtful you can get any money to go to the convention or pay for ASLA membership.The programs are generally more structured and often offered through a community college, so you might be able to get SketchUp training if the school offers it. I know my state had lists of approved programs and certifcates you could take while on unemployment. The programs offered were not particularly useful for someone with a professional degree (they still offered hand drafting...HAND DRAFTING!!!!!) and are designed more for those who are trying to obtain basic skills or transition careers. Call your local county employment office and ask if such programs exist where you are. Good luck
Thanks so much for the helpful response. I'll check with my unemployment office
In 2010 I took a home energy efficiency analysis class that included LEED-GA training, though not the LEED-GA class. It was paid for through a grant to a local nonprofit that was administering job training grants. It was part of that whole "Cash for Caulkers" program. I actually got a few interviews to be an energy analyst through it, but as soon as they saw how much LA education I had, I assume they figured I would just go back to that and was overqualified. But there are some things out there if you look hard enough. I was told by the unemployment office that they will only pay for a class if there is an actual job that it leads to, that is rather hit or miss in this field these days. I also ran into a program offering training in CAD drafting, like that is in demand in the working world now. Well, maybe in precise, CAD/CAM manufacturing environments it is. Want to draft 3D plans for high-end furnaces? Then we may have a job for you.