Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Promoting Health, Safety, and Recovery Training for COVID-19 Essential Workers and their Communities
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

November 17, 2020

First Available Due Date:
December 30, 2020
Expiration Date:
December 31, 2020

Related Announcements

PA-20-135 - Emergency Competitive Revision to Existing NIH Awards (Emergency Supplement - Clinical Trial Optional)

PA-20-272 - Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional).

Issued by

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)


The purpose of this supplement is to provide support for successful applicants to develop partnerships with local worker centers and community organizations specifically targeting under served and disadvantaged communities with higher than average COVID-19 transmission rates.

Key definitions for this FOA


The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) has over 30 years of experience providing workers health and safety training related to potential exposures to biological hazards as they perform their job duties. Many of the training courses provided by WTP grantees are based off of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA s) Hazardous waste operations and emergency response (29 CFR 1910.120), OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030), OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134), OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard (29 CFR 1910.132),Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970) - often referred to as the General Duty Clause, and OSHA Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims). WTP grantees have been involved in providing biosafety health and safety training to workers during the H5N1 outbreak, the 2001 Anthrax attacks, the H1N1 Avian Influenza 2009, mold remediation from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and Ebola starting in 2013. Their audiences have spanned worker populations from healthcare workers to volunteers.

The NIEHS WTP Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response training addressed important gaps revealed by the 2014 Ebola outbreak. The training and tools developed by this program that started in June 2016 provided a strong foundation with more than 40 new curricula developed and lessons learned that have been utilized to develop our response to COVID-19.

With new supplemental funding from Congress for coronavirus response in March 2020, NIEHS WTP created a COVID-19 virtual safety training initiative for frontline emergency responders and cleanup personnel. These target populations included critical workers that support key infrastructure functions such as emergency medical personnel, firefighters, law enforcement personnel, environmental cleanup workers, high-risk custodial service workers, processing and delivery workers in the food distribution sector, water and sewage treatment, sanitation workers, and health care facility employees.

NIEHS WTP supported the conduct of virtual worker-based training to prevent and reduce exposure for essential and returning workers who are at risk of exposure to coronavirus through their work duties. Using our hazmat trainers understanding of worker safety and health protection issues, knowledge of personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, and experience in training disaster workers, WTP provided awardees with material to develop an evidence-based curriculum that addresses the science of Coronavirus (clinical symptoms, mode of transmission, persistence in the environment, and treatment); infection control and worker protection (isolation/quarantine and PPE); working in the contaminated environment (sampling and decontamination); and behavioral health resiliency. Awardees are continuing to develop curricula and deliver training tailored to the occupations that they support.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated mitigation strategies are continuing to have significant psychosocial, sociocultural, behavioral, socioeconomic, and health impacts, which are exacerbated in populations that experience health disparities and other vulnerable groups, leading to disproportionately adverse consequences. Those experiencing health disparities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are at increased risk of infection and other COVID-19 related consequences (e.g., job loss, unpaid leave, lost wages).

Mounting evidence indicates detrimental outcomes and greater COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality among individuals with underlying medical conditions, older adults, and individuals with long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution. Preliminary reports in the U.S. point consistently to disparities by race and ethnicity, with African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders experiencing a greater COVID-19 burden than non-Hispanic White populations. Reports by geographic locations indicate that cases are substantially greater in economically disadvantaged Census tracts. COVID-19 also disproportionally affects other vulnerable populations such as frontline health care workers, first responders, and all workers with direct patient contact in a medical or emergency response setting. Frontline vulnerable populations also include those working in essential business operations (e.g., grocery, food processing, and pharmacy workers, as well as transportation sector workers such as bus drivers) whose health may be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

This initiative would support partnerships between WTP grantees and local community organizations in high COVID-19 impacted communities to increase the education and awareness of COVID-19 health risks and promote the integration and connectedness to needed public health resources such as testing, contact tracing, and the adoption of effective infection control measures.

Limitations to moving back into direct human contact in the training classroom, as well as within community organizations themselves, have created new and complicated logistical and public health challenges for small, low resourced community organizations. At the same time, these organizations have been deluged with requests for technical public health guidance, while responding to desperate requests for housing, food, and life sustaining jobs. This initiative is intended to bring together various components of NIEHS WTP: virtual and physical locations to receive safety training and personal protective equipment; infectious disease guidance and referral to testing and medical care; mental health resilience training and referral; job referral and career development; disaster preparedness, response and recovery training for complex, multi-layered climate events; and a data collection and dissemination source for science based, peer reviewed public health information.

Creating and building trust between local community organizations that serve essential and returning workers and the components of the public health and medical care infrastructure will be critical for reducing community spread and recovering from the pandemic. Building upon the effectiveness of the initial training activities of NIEHS WTP grantees with disadvantaged communities, this NOSI is intended to help move communities towards a recovery phase in the pandemic with wider spread of appropriate public health practices in the nation’s most severely COVID-19 impacted communities. Assuring cultural sensitivity, multilingual communications and an appreciation for inclusion and diversity are all essential hallmarks of any effective public health program during the COVID-19 pandemic and need to be embedded in every responsive application.

This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) provides administrative supplement or competitive revision applications for FY 2021 to support applicants in partnering with appropriate organizations with existing community relationships to develop and establish Recovery Centers for essential workers.

This is a limited competition for funding for current WTP awardees that must have partnerships with local worker centers and community organizations in underserved and disadvantaged communities with higher than the national average COVID-19 transmission rates. Partnerships with other NIEHS grantees are encouraged if collaboration will meet the aims of the application. For purposes of this NOSI (and within the parent application) the following approaches are considered responsive.

Program elements

Components of a COVID-19 Recovery Centers for essential workers should include all of the following highly recommended components. Additionally, the optional components may be added on but are not required.

Highly Recommended Components:

  • Local health and safety education and training delivery (classroom and online) using effective infection control plans and adult learning methods to include literacy and English as a second language, population education techniques, as well as multi-lingual training to increase the education and awareness of COVID-19 health risks and protective measures
  • Partnership between a WTP grantee and at least one local community organization that supports outreach to one or more populations vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Integration of existing NIEHS WTP tools, resources, and curricula into training
  • Available sourcing and distribution point of needed personal protective equipment (masks, respirators, face shields, etc.)
  • Coordination with local disaster preparedness, response, and recovery resources to assist vulnerable communities in connecting with the emergency response and recovery process
  • Assessment of program impact and effectiveness to help evaluate how local partnerships with essential workers organizations can help with COVID-19 community recovery
  • IT Technical Assistance and best practices and data integration with virtual learning
  • Appropriate partnership for the proposed project, such as with local public health agencies and area employers, to facilitate connectedness to resources such as testing, contact tracing, and the adoption of effective infection control measures.

Optional Components:

  • Access point for COVID-19 testing, mental health counseling, peer support, medical treatment, case follow-up and contact tracing
  • Connection to job training, life skills, and employment opportunities
  • Referrals for social services, childcare, food distribution, and emergency housing
  • Resources for identifying best practices under disaster response
  • Additional partnerships with farm workers, environmental justice communities, immigrant organizations, tribal organizations, high risk workers such as those at food processing and meatpacking facilities or other essential worker or volunteer organizations

Description of circumstances for which administrative supplements or competitive revisions are available.

Application and Submission Information

If applying, you must submit using one of the following opportunities or their subsequent reissued equivalent

PA-20-135 - Emergency Competitive Revision to Existing NIH Awards (Emergency Supplement - Clinical Trial Optional) - This is intended to provide funds for NIH grantees applying to expand the scope of their active grant.

PA-20-272 - Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional).This is intended for NIH grantees seeking additional funds for training and outreach responsive to the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 outbreak that falls within the scope of an ongoing grant/cooperative agreement. All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additions:

  • Applications may be submitted beginning on 11/30/2020 for the Application Due Date on 12/30/2020 (5:00 PM local time of the applicant organization). Applications received after this time will not be considered. .
  • For funding consideration, applicants must include NOT-ES-21-002 (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
  • Existing awardees of NIEHS WTP program are eligible to apply
  • Requests should be for the conduct of activities that can be completed by the end of the current application project period or no-cost extension.
  • Requests can be made for multiple budget periods up through 2 years.
  • For multiple years, a separate budget and training plan is required for each budget period.
  • Budget requests for applications as an Administrative Supplement can exceed the total cost of the parent award. No request can exceed $500,000 total cost.
  • Pre-award costs may be incurred from January 20, 2020 through the public health emergency period and prior to the date of the federal award.

  • F&A will be provided at 8%

  • All applications must be submitted electronically. Supplement and Competitive Revision requests for complex applications must be submitted electronically as single project applications.
  • The Research Strategy section of the application is limited to 6 pages.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to notify the program contact at the Institute supporting the parent award that a request has been submitted in response to this FOA in order to facilitate efficient processing of the requests
  • The parent award must be active when the supplement application is submitted (e.g. within the originally reviewed and approved project period), regardless of the time remaining on the current project.
  • Funds are awarded using appropriations provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, will be issued in unique sub accounts in the HHS Payment Management System and will require separate financial reporting from any other funds awarded.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Sharon D. Beard, MS
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 984-287-3237

Joseph T. Hughes, Jr., MPH
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 984-287-3271

James Remington, RN
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 984-287-3311

Demia Wright, MPH
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 984-287-3341

Peer Review Contact(s)
Not Applicable

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Lisa Edwards, MBA
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone: 984-287-3258

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices