i3 Federal Grants Fund Innovative Programs

Date: March 29, 2010

By Guest Blogger Ron Tomalis

Many districts are putting the finishing touches on their grant applications for the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program, which will award more than 200 grants totaling more than $643 million to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and nonprofits.

These grants will provide funding to expand innovative practices with proven success in the following areas:

  • Improving student achievement or growth in high-need areas
  • Closing achievement gaps
  • Decreasing dropout rates
  • Increasing high school graduation rates

This is a perfect opportunity for communities that need to secure funding to expand a successful existing program or put other innovative educational programs in place.

i3 includes three types of grant opportunities with different potential funding and requirements:

  1. Scale-Up: five awards averaging $40 million each; large-scale implementation; strong evidence of past success
  2. Validation: 100 awards averaging $17.5 million each; medium-scale implementation; moderate evidence of past success
  3. Development: 100 awards averaging $3 million each; small- to medium-scale implementation; prior implementation with some success

Every applicant must focus on one of four “absolute priorities:”

  1. Teacher and principal effectiveness;
  2. Data aggregation, analysis and research;
  3. College readiness; or,
  4. Turnaround for low performing schools.

Extra consideration will be given to applications in the areas of early childhood, college entry and completion, students with disabilities and ELL, and rural studen

Grant recipients will be required to provide a 20 percent match to federal funds and show long-term sustainability strategies.

More information is available on the Investing in Innovation Fund section of the DoE web site.

Ron Tomalis is director of Dutko Worldwide, the Washington, D.C.-based global public policy management firm. Tomalis specializes in education, and has held various senior management, policy, and operational positions in state and federal government. He served as counselor to the United States Secretary of Education, Acting Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Executive Deputy Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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