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Education Dept. Names 23 i3 Grant Recipients

Twenty-three school districts, colleges, and other organizations are one step closer to receiving a portion of $150 million to be awarded by the United States Department of Education through the Investing in Innovation (i3) program.

The program will distribute scale-up grants of up to $25 million to projects that show strong indicators of success. Validation grants of up to $15 million will be awarded to schools and nonprofits that show moderate levels of evidence for success. And up to $3 million in development grants will be provided for untested concepts with high levels of potential.

These applicants, chosen from the original group of 600, are now required to find 5 percent in private funding for the scale-up grant category, 10 percent for validation grants, and 15 percent for development. The deadline is Dec. 9, and awards will be presented in mid- to late September.

The 23 winning applicants are:

Competition requirements called for applicants to develop project proposals with the following priorities:

  • Promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education;
  • Improving graduation rates at rural high schools;
  • Creating high standards and assessments;
  • Supporting teachers and administrators who show promise for improving student achievement; or
  • Improving performance at underperforming schools.

Consideration was also given to applicants whose projects showed support for spiking early learning outcomes, improving college access, and addressing needs of disabled students. In addition, applicants who aimed to focus on students with limited English skills, and enhancing productivity or technology, were looked at.

"With just 25 percent of the funding available in round one, i3's 2011 competition attracted hundreds of innovators from schools, districts and nonprofits across the country, addressing many of the most persistent challenges in education," said Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement. "In just a few short years, i3 has the potential to provide educators with a rich catalogue of practical solutions that they can confidently use to help advance student achievement at every level--not just increase proficiency."

The Investing in Innovation Fund is provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provides monies for supporting schools, consortiums of schools, and nonprofit organizations that work in partnership with schools.

President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal year 2012 budget includes $300 million for a third round of grants.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education Web site.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.