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Funding, Grants & Awards | News

Department of Ed Opens Up Development Innovation Grants

The feds have opened up the fifth round of the Investing in Innovation (i3) competition for schools, districts and non-profits, this one with a focus on development grants, which can be up to $3 million each. The program is run by the United States Department of Education with the intent of developing and expanding practices that accelerate student achievement and prepare students for success in college and careers. So far 117 i3 projects have received funding.

This year's i3 competition, which has $134.8 million in funding, will feature three types of grants: development, which this latest one represents; validation; and scale-up. The other two categories will be open for applications later this spring, according to ED.

The development grant category covers applications for programs that fall into one of several areas: effective use of technology, improving academic outcomes for English Learners (ELs), improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities, improving the effectiveness of teachers or principals, improving low-performing schools and serving rural communities. The funding is used to support new concepts that are considered worthy of further study.

As in previous development grant programs, applicants will actually fill out a "pre-application" from which the Department will choose those that are "highly rated." The highly rated applicants will then be invited to apply for the competition and given additional time for that part of the process.

Last year's pre-application stage drew 576 applicants and 18 of those programs were funded. Among the recipients: A charter school system sponsored by Arizona State University received nearly $3 million to integrate technology into its classrooms. NYC Leadership Academy won a comparable amount to support a program to develop high functioning teams of school leaders to take over and transform chronically low-performing public schools in New York City.

An expectation of the program is that each grant recipient will also secure private-sector funding for at least 15 percent of their budget. The purpose of that stipulation is to encourage the grantees to put attention into figuring out how to sustain and amplify their work.

"We're excited to begin this year's i3 Development competition to support promising efforts in the field. The initiatives supported by i3 are not only designed to boost students' success, they also improve our understanding of what works for students and educators," said Nadya Dabby, acting assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement. "We look forward to supporting new ideas to help all students — especially our highest need students — achieve."

The pre-application forms are available at ed.gov. A webinar that explains the general expectations of the program, grants management and reporting requirements is available on the i3 site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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