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NGLC Launches $10 Million in New Grants

Education initiative Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) has kicked off a new round of challenge grants aimed at helping middle school students improve their math and reading skills through the use of technology. The newly released request for proposals (RFP) seeks "promising approaches to helping students master seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade content and competencies aligned with the Common Core State Standards."

The $10 million in new grant funding follows the initial RFP for this category of grants, which was released in October 2010 and focused on postsecondary education. "We support innovators who want to harness the power of technology to help more young people get into and through college, ready to succeed in the workplace," said Ira Fuchs, executive director of NGLC. "We must accelerate the use of learning tools that hold tremendous promise to help meet this challenge."

According to the text of the RFP, proposals submitted for the new round of grants must demonstrate that the programs seeking funding meet the following criteria:

  • Target seventh- to ninth-grade math or literacy content and deeper learning competencies as defined by the Common Core State Standards (programs may focus on all ages of learners);
  • Use modular content that can be mixed and matched easily by learners and teachers;
  • Use embedded assessment that can capture and assess student performance and provide performance feedback that students and teachers can use to improve the learning process and results;
  • Exemplify contemporary research in cognitive and learning science, including interactive and contextualized learning, multiple learning paths, and scaffolded learning that results in deeper disciplinary understanding of concepts, as well as opportunities for students to practice skills and competencies; and
  • Focus on student progression and mastery of concepts and skills, rather than "seat time."

"We believe that if technology is applied well, it has the potential to significantly improve student learning experiences and can offer more personalized and effective approaches to prepare students for college and the workforce," said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

NGLC is an ongoing project of nonprofit Educause in partnership with several organizations working toward optimizing the impact of technology on education, including the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and the League for Innovation in the Community College. Overall funding comes from various philanthropic organizations dedicated to improving education in the United States and around the world, including substantial support from the Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.