GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina A&T State University will help lead the way toward cleaner energy thanks to a massive $23.7 million grant to fund a new project entitled STEPs4GROWTH.

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper joined U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to announce a $23,687,365 grant through the American Rescue Plan at the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research & Innovation Complex at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro.

A&T is receiving the second-largest grant of the 32 winning organizations selected from more than 500 applicants. The grants are meant to support industry-led workforce training partnerships across the country.

STEPs4GROWTH is an acronym that stands for Successful Training and Effective Partnerships for Growing Regional Opportunities in the Workforce To Harness. The project is all about getting the workforce ready for jobs in the clean energy sector.

“CE is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the country and NC, a perennial leader in CE,” A&T said in its application.

The project will support energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean vehicles and grid and storage in Greensboro, Charlotte, Halifax and northeast coastal North Carolina. It’s expected to impact “16 distressed counties in the state, including Tier 1 counties encompassing ‘Black Belt’ rural communities.”

The university will be working with Duke Energy, Blue Ridge Power, Siemens Energy and Strata Clean Energy and other employers.

“A trained workforce is essential to ensuring that the United States can compete and succeed in the 21st century,” Raimondo said. “Thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan, the Commerce Department is able to make once-in-a-generation investments in industry-driven, and locally-led workforce systems that will create high-quality jobs and accelerate regional economic growth, especially for underserved communities.”