The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the availability of $150 million in funding through the second round of Investing in Innovation (i3) grants, which support evidence-based practices in education. School districts, groups of districts, and non-profits in partnerships with districts or a consortium of schools are invited to apply.
"Smart innovation and entrepreneurship [have] the ability to dramatically accelerate student achievement and attainment," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "The next round of i3 grants will add to the growing portfolio of new and emerging successful practices in education and invest in ideas that help supply teachers and students with the tools they need to be successful."
All applicants must address one of the following five key areas of reform:
- Achievement and high school graduation rates in rural schools
- Promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education
- Supporting effective teachers and principals
- Implementing high standards and quality assessments
- Turning around persistently low-performing schools
"Extraordinary work is happening throughout the country with the potential to not only transform our education system, but invest in our economy and ensure equal access to a high-quality education for thousands more students," Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, said in a statement. "The Investing in Innovation fund will continue to support promising and proven projects that elevate student performance, close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, and attract, support and retain high-quality teachers and principals."
Grants will be awarded in the following three categories:
- Up to $25 million each will be available for Scale-up grants [PDF file] to applicants with the strongest evidence and track records of success
- Up to $15 million each will be available for Validation grants [PDF file] to verify effectiveness for programs with moderate levels of evidence
- Up to $3 million each will be available for Development grants [PDF file] to support new and high-potential practices whose impact should be studied further
The first round of i3 grants received almost 1,700 applications, and a total of 49 grants were awarded to school districts and non-profit organizations. Applications for the second round are due on August 2, 2011, and awards will be announced by December 31, 2011.