Program Design

Each training program proposal will be evaluated based on the cost per employment outcome. As a benchmark, we have established a planned investment target of $10,000 per employment outcome for budget-planning purposes. Applicants should be thoughtful about what they propose in order to maximize public dollars. This amount includes all expenses required to obtain an employment outcome, including recruitment, training, support, program design and program management. If an applicant proposes to serve a population that requires more intensive and/or longer duration of services to be successful, applicants may propose a cost per outcome that exceeds this amount; however, you must justify this cost per outcome in the budget notes section. Planned training programs must cover the required Pathmaker Core Competencies Checklist, and the duration of these programs must be between 8-10 weeks and 80-120 hours.

The “life sciences” are defined in the MLSC’s enabling legislation as “advanced and applied sciences that expand the understanding of human physiology and have the potential to lead to medical advances or therapeutic applications.”

Through this solicitation, the MLSC is particularly seeking to seed, enhance and/or expand training programs that address critical skills and talent supply gaps facing the state’s life science industry. Such programs include those focused on biomanufacturing, medtech advanced manufacturing, and other key careers in the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts. Applicants must have at least one industry partnership that ensures that the program is responding to a direct hiring need. Furthermore, the MLSC is committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the life sciences workforce and will prioritize investment in programs that serve underrepresented populations.

This program is intended to help build job training and support capacity to fill gaps in the workforce for life science sectors while creating opportunities for underserved individuals. These funds will enable applicants to:

  • Recruit individuals from low-income and underrepresented communities, individuals from federally recognized or state-acknowledged tribes within the Commonwealth
  • Create new and/or expand technical and job readiness training opportunities to provide the skills necessary to attain placement in life science occupations
  • Develop and nurture new relationships with employers in the life sciences to develop job placements and identify avenues for career growth
  • Establish and grow wraparound and retention support services to address social and economic barriers and increase the likelihood of long-term career success

The MLSC anticipates awarding four (4) to twelve (12) Pathmaker grants between $100,000 and $750,000 for one (1) year of work.

Alternatively, training providers can seek the Pathmaker validation without applying for funding, provided that their existing program(s) meet the minimum Core Competency Checklist. Please see full details for Pathmaker validation process here.

Program Eligibility

Applicants must be a Massachusetts legally organized:

  • Life Science company (“Company”) located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and registered to do business in Massachusetts. A Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Secretary of State and Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue are required for the submission
  • Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), including CBOs relying on a fiscal agent
  • Community Colleges, Colleges, and Universities
  • Comprehensive and Vocational High Schools, including Vocational Schools offering an after-hours or Career Technical Initiative evening training program
  • For-Profit Entities
  • Non-Profit Entities
  • Municipalities
  • Workforce Development Organizations
  • MassHire Workforce Investment Boards and Career Centers

The MLSC is interested in supporting applicants that will further its goal of developing a skilled workforce suitable for employment in the life sciences, particularly in high-demand occupations. Successful proposals will explain how the requested funds will create learning opportunities that are aligned with the needs of the life sciences industry.

Evaluation Process

Applications will only be accepted through the MLSC’s online application portal, accessed via SmartSimple. Applicants are required to create an account and complete a user profile before starting the application. It is recommended that applicants carefully follow the online instructions and provide complete, clear, and concise responses to all required questions. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that its application is complete, meets minimum threshold requirements and is properly submitted to the MLSC prior to the established deadline. Multiple users can be given access to the application. Applicants are asked to review the MLSC’s Public Disclosure policy prior to submitting their application.

MLSC staff will conduct an initial administrative review to determine eligibility of all submitted applications. Eligible applicants will then be reviewed and scored. Funding recommendations will then be made to the MLSC Board of Directors based on feedback and scores. The amount of awards will be determined by the quality of the proposals.

MLSC staff may contact the applicant to request supplemental information prior to formal review. In addition, the MLSC reserves the right to make no awards, to award less than the applicant requests, and/or to award less than the maximum amount of funds potentially available through this solicitation.

Core Competencies represent the minimum requirements for a Pathmaker-approved training program. Additional skills and competencies based on specific employer needs and/or requests may also be included. The Pathmaker Core Competency Checklist defines the areas that must be included in a proposed curriculum, with specific examples of focus areas that may be included to satisfy that required area. There are distinct core competencies identified for the PathmakerBIO (biomanufacturing and related roles) and PathmakerTECH (medtech / advanced manufacturing and related roles). Alternatively, a third “open” track allows a training provider to propose a different course of study—such as quality assurance, lab support, or supply chain—as identified by a demonstrated employer partner. 

Submitted proposals will be reviewed and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Detailed description of target roles, skills, and target population | 10
  • Clear program design that addresses the Core Competencies of desired program and conveys practical evaluation methods | 10
  • Effectiveness of recruitment and outreach strategies | 10
  • Letter of support that includes an articulation of goals, roles, and responsibilities of the employer partner. Applicants must show signed letter of support from at least one industry partner that attests to the relevance of the planned program; partnerships may include providing curriculum design, advisory board participation, equipment donations, mentoring, job shadowing, guest speakers, and/or funding support; applicants may partner with new or existing industry collaborators to fulfill this requirement | 15
  • Budget accuracy and reasonableness | 15
  • Outcomes seem attainable, given the proposed population and program design | 10
  • Potential for training program to benefit students who are underrepresented in the life sciences or are economically disadvantaged, efforts by Applicant to evaluate the success of its program by tracking student outcomes | 20
  • Applicant shows ability and commitment to students through additional support services, career awareness, and job readiness | 10

Please note: the MLSC reserves the right to consider the applicant’s past performance in operating grants administered by both the Center and/or the Commonwealth and factor this performance into funding decisions. Applicants must be in compliance with the terms of any current grants and/or post-grant reporting obligations. All applicants will be notified of their award status by email. In addition to the scoring system outlined, the Center reserves the right to only consider submissions that, in our sole judgment, are complete and responsive to the solicitation’s requirements and include all required application components. Additionally, the Center reserves the right to consider other criteria in making awards.


Grant funds shall be used for activities including, but not limited to:

  • Staff time devoted to the program, including outreach and recruitment, intake and assessment, training delivery, wraparound support services, job placement services, and retention services; personnel & support & supplies needed
  • Marketing, communications, and outreach activities related to recruitment for the program, such as design costs for marketing collateral, purchasing mass media spots, and website or social media costs;
  • Subcontracting with training providers for curriculum delivery or with vendors providing specific training platforms or licensure testing services;
  • Purchasing or leasing of specialized equipment, training space, and other direct startup costs needed for training delivery;
  • Training stipends; and
  • Supporting services to address barrier reduction, including transportation reimbursements, and daycare subsidies.

Activities that are NOT eligible for funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Purchase or lease of venue space or equipment intended for general operating purposes;
  • Costs associated with preparing this proposal; and
  • Activities that occur before or following the term of an awarded grant.

The MLSC reserves the right to adjust the requested amount of funding for each proposal. Following execution of the Grant Agreement, funds will be provided via electronic fund transfer (EFT)–60% of total funding will be available immediately upon execution, with the remaining 40% available on a reimbursement basis after all necessary receipts (for 100% of expended funds) and reports have been received and upon verification of those costs.
Amount requested from the MLSC by a single institution/organization cannot exceed $750,000. Applications submitted by multiple entities collaborating on a proposal can request additional funds (costs must be identified separately). Budget must include an itemized list of equipment, materials, supplies, and/or technology with the estimated cost for each item. If applicable, budget must separate FY24 and FY25 expenses. The MLSC reserves the right to adjust the requested amount.

Through this solicitation, grants are to be awarded for Fiscal Year 2024 (end June 30, 2024), with the option to also request funding through June 30, 2025 as necessary. Spending for any awardee must begin in Fiscal Year 2024 (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for my program to be Pathmaker certified without adding new programming or applying for funding?
Yes, please do. You can use this online form to submit a request that your existing program be evaluated for Pathmaker validation. Existing programs can be successfully validated even if they are outside of the 8–10 week and 80 –120 hour guidelines required for Pathmaker funding.

Can I apply for programs that are longer or shorter than 8 weeks or 80 hours?
You can apply for programs that are between 8-10 weeks and 80–120 hours, shorter or longer programs are not being considered eligible for funding at this time, but will be eligible for the Pathmaker validation without funding. Organizations with existing programming outside of those parameters who wish to be considered for funding must be adding new programming that does meeting the qualifications and has an associated employer letter of support.

Will a program be considered ineligible if it is more than 10 weeks and 120 hours?
While we would prefer the applicant use the duration guidelines, each program will be evaluated on an individual basis. The intent of the program is to support short introductory programs.

Do letters of support have to be on a company letter head?
Yes, and the signatory should be someone with decision making authority over training partnerships and hiring needs, e.g. CEO, VP of HR, Director of Operations, etc.