Education Grants

ED Opens $500,000 Competition for Rural HS Tech Training Projects

Rural schools and districts have until Oct. 8 to vie for funding to cover development of programs to help students gain skills in advanced technology. The U.S. Department of Education will choose up to five recipients, which will share equally in a $500,000 prize pool in the "Rural Tech Project.". The delivery methods are expected to use distance and blended instruction in a competency-based model, to help high schoolers prepare for jobs that are "customized" for local needs.

Applicants are encouraged to work with local employers and other partners in developing their program proposals. Award criteria will issue points in five areas:

  • The quality of methodology used in the program design;

  • The quality of the planning, with an emphasis on aspects such as budget, hardware and software requirements, staffing and sources of curriculum;

  • Level of community support;

  • The extent to which continuous improvement is embedded into the plan; and

  • Career relevance, whether for local or national employers.

Bonus points will go to proposals that especially serve low-income students.

Those that make the final cut will go through development of detailed program plans prior to launch. They'll receive access to virtual resources and other kinds of assistance "as they plan, run and refine their programs" over the next two school years.

In summer 2023, finalists will be asked to document their outcomes as final submissions. A judging panel will recommend a grand prize of an additional $100,000 for one of the recipients.

Judging will be done by an independent panel of experts in competency-based education, technology education, distance learning, rural education, community engagement, education program design, and workforce development. The Rural Tech Project is from the Department's Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, with support from Luminary Labs, a consultancy that works with corporate, nonprofit and government entities on innovation projects.

Learn more about the competition on the Rural Tech Project site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.