Policy & Funding

Final Round of i3 Development Grants Seeks Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline

The United States Department of Education (ED) has opened the application period for the seventh round of Investing in Innovation (i3) “Development” grants. This will be the last opportunity schools will have to tap into this part of the competitive grant program, which offers up to $3 million for each accepted proposal.

The Investing in Innovation Fund provides several million dollars annually in competitive grants ($120 million this year) designed to encourage programs that boost student achievement and college readiness, improve science education, turn around low-performing schools and support teacher/administrator effectiveness. Since 2010, the program has awarded some $1.3 billion in grants, some of which ($200 million) has been matched by funds from the private sector.

The “Development” grant portion of the program is one of three types of grants offered under i3. (The other two are “Scale Up” and “Validation” grants). Development grants are given to proposals that are deemed worthy of further study but may not have much of a track record or evidence base yet.

Later this year, ED will be accepting proposals for Validation and Scale Up grants under the i3 program, which provide larger grant awards but also require more rigorous evidence. This will be the final year for the i3 program. Next year, i3 will be replaced by the Education Innovation and Research program, enacted under the Every Student Succeeds Act. That program is expected to be funded at $180 million, significantly more than i3.

i3 Priorities for 2016
This year’s program is, for the first time, seeking proposals that specifically address changing school climates and, in particular, create alternatives to exclusionary discipline policies.

According to ED: “This year, the i3 Development competition is encouraging innovations that maximize students’ learning and engagement by transforming the school environment. For the first time, the Department is encouraging applicants to improve school climates and develop alternative strategies to exclusionary discipline. This allows schools, districts and their partners to build on the extensive work underway through the [Obama] administration’s #ReThinkDiscipline initiative.”

The program is also seeking proposals aimed at closing academic gaps between students of differing ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. And, as ED pointed out: “Consistent with past years, this competition also promotes innovative strategies to support students and educators as they implement rigorous standards and aligned assessments, enhance students’ non-cognitive skills, and serve students in rural areas.”

Application Requirements
i3 Development grants are open to all local education agencies (LEAs) within the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. As part of the program, LEAs partner with nonprofits and other educational organizations on their proposals. Each partnership must include some sort of financial contribution (matching or in-kind funds) from at least one private sector organization. (See ED’s guidelines for private sector funding.) Specific requirements for partnerships can be found on the i3 eligibility page on ed.gov.

The deadline for submitting an “intent to apply” is May 10, 2016. The deadline for pre-applications is May 25. Further details about the fiscal year 2016 i3 Development program can be found on ED’s site.

Additional i3 programs in the categories of Scale Up and Validation grants are expected to open later this year.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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