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Deadline: June 30, 2015

U.S. Department of Education: First in the World Development Grants

The First in the World (FITW) program is designed to support the development, replication, and dissemination of innovative solutions and evidence for what works in addressing persistent and widespread challenges in postsecondary education for students who are at risk for not persisting in and completing postsecondary programs, including, but not limited to, adult learners, working students, part-time students, students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, students with disabilities, and first-generation students. The focus of the FITW program is to build evidence for what works in postsecondary education by testing the effectiveness of these strategies in improving student persistence and completion outcomes.

For FY 2015, the Department will award two types of grants under this program: “Development” grants and “Validation” grants. These grants differ in terms of the level of evidence of effectiveness required for consideration of funding, the level of scale the funded project should reach, and, consequently, the amount of funding available to support the project. This solicitation is for Development grants. Development grants have  three absolute priorities and one competitive preference priority:

  • Absolute Priority 1: Improving Teaching and Learning – The Secretary gives priority to projects designed to improve teaching and learning through instruction-level tools or strategies such as adaptive learning technology, educational games, personalized learning, active- or project-based learning, faculty-centered strategies that systematically improve the quality of teaching, or multi-disciplinary efforts focused on improving instructional experiences.
  • Absolute Priority 2: Developing and Using Assessments of Learning – The Secretary gives priority to projects that support the development and use of externally validated assessments of student learning and stated learning goals through one of the following: (a) Alternative assessment tools or strategies such as micro- or competency-based assessments, assessments embedded in curriculum, or simulations, games, or other technology-based assessment approaches; or (b) Aligning assessments across sectors and institutions, such as across kindergarten through grade 12 and postsecondary education systems or across two-year and four-year institutions, to improve college readiness and content delivery.
  • Absolute Priority 3: Facilitating Pathways to Credentialing and Transfer – The Secretary gives priority to projects designed to develop and implement systems and practices to capture and aggregate credit or other evidence of knowledge and skills towards postsecondary degrees or credentials through one of the following: (a) Seamless transfer of credits between postsecondary institutions; or (b) Validation and transfer of credit for learning or learning experiences from non-institutional sources.
  • Competitive Preference Priority: Implementing Low Cost-High Impact Strategies To Improve Student Outcomes (Up to 5 Points) – The Secretary gives priority to projects that use low-cost tools or strategies, such as those that use technology, that result in a high impact on student outcomes.

Amount: $60,000,000 total is available for the FITW program, with up to $16,000,000 set aside for Minority-Serving Institutions. Approximately $20,000,000 will be used for the Development grants program. Development grant awards may range from $1,000,000-$3,000,000 over a 4-year period.

Eligibility: Institutions of higher education, combinations of such institutions, and other public and private nonprofit institutions and agencies.

Link: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fitw/applicant.html

Note: The Department will host three webinars in May. Registration details are available at the above website.


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