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Deadline: April 29, 2015

U.S. Department of Education: Investing in Innovation Development Grants

The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) provides funding to support: 1) local educational agencies (LEAs), and 2) nonprofit organizations in partnership with (a) one or more LEAs or (b) a consortium of schools. The i3 program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. The central design element of the i3 program is its multi-tier structure that links the amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project. Applicants proposing practices supported by limited evidence can receive relatively small grants that support the development and initial evaluation of promising practices and help to identify new solutions to pressing challenges; applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as large randomized controlled trials, can receive sizable grants to support expansion across the country. All i3 projects are required to generate additional evidence of effectiveness. All i3 grantees must use part of their budgets to conduct independent evaluations of their projects.

The Department awards three types of grants under this program: ‘‘Development’’ grants, ‘‘Validation’’ grants, and ‘‘Scale-Up’’ grants. These grants differ in terms of the level of prior 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. Development grants provide funding to support the development or testing of practices that are supported by evidence of promise or a strong theory and whose efficacy should be systematically studied. Development grants will support new or substantially more effective practices for addressing widely shared challenges. Development projects are novel and significant nationally, not projects that simply implement existing practices in additional locations or support needs that are primarily local in nature. All Development grantees must evaluate the effectiveness of the project at the level of scale proposed in the application.

There are five absolute priorities in the 2015 i3 competition. An applicant must address at least one absolute priority:

  1. Increase the number and percentage of highly effective principals: Applicants are encouraged to address this priority through strategies that improve hiring, support, and retention efforts for principals with the ultimate outcome of improving outcomes for high-need students.
  2. Improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that reach students beyond the boundaries of the traditional school day (e.g., during out-of-school time or extended-day programs) and provide meaningful, real-world STEM learning experiences that will inspire students’ interest in STEM and give them the tools they need to meet the demands of dynamic labor markets.
  3. Support the use of technology in the classroom to support student learning and inform teacher professional development: Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that will examine the effectiveness of various approaches to providing student and teacher support and build the research base.
  4. Influence the development of non-cognitive factors: Projects under this priority should identify solutions and build evidence to determine effective ways to help students develop such skills and behaviors (e.g., interventions that directly target students, support changes in educators’ instructional practices, or redesign learning environments), as well as how to measure such skills and behaviors in valid and reliable ways, and to demonstrate how improvement in such skills and behaviors affects overall student outcomes.
  5. Serve rural communities: Students living in rural communities face unique challenges. Applicants applying under this priority must also address one of the other four absolute priorities described above.

Novice applicants (who have never received a grant under the i3 program) are given competitive preference.

Amount: Grants of up to $3,000,000 will be made in the Development competition; approximately 9-11 awards will be made. A 15% match from the private sector is required.

Eligibility: Either of the following may apply:

  • An LEA
  • A partnership between a nonprofit organization and 1) one or more LEAs; or 2) a consortium of schools

In addition, an eligible applicant must:

  • Have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with limited English proficiency, students with disabilities); or have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students described in that section.
  • Have made significant improvements in other areas, such as high school graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data.
  • Demonstrate that it has established one or more partnerships with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, and that organizations in the private sector will provide matching funds in order to help bring results to scale.
  • In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization, provide in the application the names of the LEAs with which the nonprofit organization will partner, or the names of the schools in the consortium with which it will partner.

Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-30/pdf/2015-07213.pdf

Note: A notice of intent to complete an application is strongly encouraged and due by April 20, 2015.

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