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State Accepting Proposals to Invest in the Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund

Maryland one of six states to receive federal funding to help communities address the economic and workforce-related impacts of the opioid crisis

BALTIMORE (Feb. 14, 2019) – James E. Rzepkowski, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, today announced the creation of the Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund (OWIF). Part of a $1.9 million federal grant awarded in 2018 from the U.S. Department of Labor, the OWIF will support local organizations in developing innovative solutions that lead to improved employment outcomes for individuals and businesses who have been impacted by the opioid crisis.

“The Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund will help counter the negative impacts of the opioid crisis on Maryland’s workforce and economy,” said Acting Labor Secretary Rzepkowski. “Through strategic partnerships and strategies that deliver coordinated workforce and behavioral health services to eligible individuals, we will overcome opioid-related workforce challenges and help our business partners fill their talent pipelines.”

The OWIF is a competitive grant fund intended to seed the implementation of new and promising ideas or to adopt proven strategies at the systems or service delivery level. Through investments in innovative, industry-driven workforce programs, the OWIF will further address the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use disorder with innovative workforce programs in Maryland.

“All across our state, Marylanders are affected by the heroin and opioid epidemic. It reaches into every jurisdiction, every community, and every neighborhood. To help us turn the tide, we need to leverage resources that will support individuals in recovery in the workforce,” said Steve Schuh, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “I applaud the Maryland Department of Labor and look forward to continued partnership in combating this crisis.”

Successful OWIF applicants will build connections between the workforce system and the behavioral health system to support Maryland jobseekers in eliminating barriers to employment and preparing for, securing, and retaining employment in high-demand industries and occupations. Applications will be reviewed by a cross-agency team from the Maryland departments of Labor and Health.

“Experience tells us that stable employment helps people in their recovery. This initiative will improve collaboration between behavioral health and workforce professionals, which will improve outcomes for Marylanders,” said Secretary Robert R. Neall of the Maryland Department of Health.

A wide range of entities are encouraged to apply for OWIF funds. The state will accept and review OWIF applications on a rolling basis. Applications will continue to be accepted until the grant funds are exhausted.

For more information about the Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund, e-mail, or contact Mary Keller at 410-767-2017.

About the Maryland Department of Labor
The Maryland Department of Labor is committed to safeguarding and protecting Marylanders. We're proud to support the economic stability of the state by providing businesses, the workforce, and the consuming public with high-quality, customer-focused regulatory, employment, and training services. For updates and information, follow the Maryland Department of Labor on Twitter (@MD_Labor), Facebook and visit our website.

Theresa Blaner
Director, Communications and Media Relations

About the Maryland Department of Health
The Maryland Department of Health is the state agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected at on Twitter and Facebook.

Marylanders in need of treatment for a substance use disorder can locate treatment facilities on our page. Individuals can also call 211 and press 1 or text their zip code to 898-211 to speak with knowledgeable crisis call specialists. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see our Overdose Prevention in Maryland page.

Brittany Fowler

About the Opioid Operational Command Center
Before It’s Too Late is the state’s effort to bring awareness to this epidemic and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery. Marylanders grappling with a substance use disorder can find help at or by calling 211 and pressing 1. Individuals also can call 211 and press 1 or text their zip code to 898-211 to speak with knowledgeable crisis call specialists.

Katie Kuehn