The WtW grants program allocated a total of $2.85 billion in federal funds through formula and competitive grants. WtW formula funds were allocated to states based on their share of the national poverty population and TANF caseload. States, in turn, distributed these funds to local areas. WtW competitive funds were available directly to states and local areas that applied for funds for specific projects. The WtW funds could be used for a range of program approaches, as long as the program emphasized employment.
The WtW legislation contained strict guidelines for program eligibility that initially slowed enrollment. The legislation required that 70 percent of funds be used for long-term TANF recipients who had two of three employment barriers: (1) no high school diploma or GED and low reading or math skills, (2) a substance abuse problem, and (3) a poor work history. The remaining 30 percent of funds could be used for recipients who had characteristics typical of long-term TANF recipients but did not meet the 70 percent criteria. In 2000, Congress relaxed the eligibility criteria, allowing WtW programs to serve more flexibly those long-term TANF recipients who faced barriers that were likely to make their transition to employment difficult.