U.S. Department of Education: Investing in Innovation Fund-Development Grants
The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) 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. There are 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 FY 2016 Development competition. Absolute priorities are intended to prompt new approaches to challenges in education, represent new areas of policy focus in which rigorous evidence is scarce, and constitute areas that the Department of Education would like to strengthen within the current portfolio of i3 grantees. Each of the five absolute priorities constitutes its own funding category. The priorities are:
- Absolute Priority 1—Promoting Diversity: Funding is provided to projects that are designed to prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse workforce and society by increasing the diversity, including racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, of students enrolled in individual schools or postsecondary programs; or, in the case of preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, decreasing the racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic isolation of students who are served by the project. Within this priority, the Department is particularly interested in projects that design and implement intra-district, inter-district, community, or regional programs that improve student outcomes by increasing socioeconomic diversity.
- Absolute Priority 2—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked College- and Career-Ready Standards and Assessments: Funding is provided to projects that are designed to support the implementation of, and transition to, internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards and assessments, including developing and implementing strategies that use the standards and information from assessments to inform classroom practices that meet the needs of all students.
- Absolute Priority 3—Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional Education: Funding is provided to projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through reducing or eliminating disparities in school disciplinary practices for particular groups of students, including minority students and students with disabilities, or reducing or eliminating the use of exclusionary discipline (such as suspensions, expulsions, and unnecessary placements in alternative education programs) by identifying and addressing the root causes of those disparities or uses and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the disparities or uses.
- Absolute Priority 4—Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors:Funding is provided to projects that are designed to improve students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors (such as academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and approaches toward learning strategies) and enhance student motivation and engagement in learning.
- Absolute Priority 5—Serving Rural Communities: Funding is provided to projects that address one of the other four absolute priorities established for the 2016 Development i3 competition and under which the majority of students to be served are enrolled in rural local educational agencies.
There is one Competitive Preference Priority for the FY 2016 competition, for which the Department of Education will award 3 points. This priority is for novice applicants, defined as eligible applicants that have never directly received a grant under this program.
Amount: $103,100,000 is available for all three i3 competitions (Development, Validation, and Scale Up). Approximately 9-11 Development grants will be made, of up to $3,000,000 each.
An eligible Development applicant must obtain matching funds, or in-kind donations, equal to at least 15 percent of its Federal grant award. The highest-rated eligible applicants must submit evidence of 50 percent of the required private-sector matching funds following the peer review of applications. A Federal i3 award will not be made unless the applicant provides adequate evidence that the 50 percent of the required private-sector match has been committed or the Secretary approves the eligible applicant’s request to reduce the matching-level requirement. An applicant must provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of required private-sector match three months after the project start date.
Eligibility: There are two categories for eligibility:
- An LEA; or
- A partnership between a nonprofit organization and one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools
In addition, an eligible applicant must:
- (a)(1) 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 (2) Have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students described in that section;
- (b) Have made significant improvements in other areas, such as high school graduation rates (as defined in this notice) or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data;
- (c) 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; and
- (d) 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. If an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization intends to partner with additional LEAs or schools that are not named in the application, it must describe in the application the demographic and other characteristics of these LEAs and schools and the process it will use to select them.
Notes: A notice of intent to apply is requested by May 10, 2016. A webinar for prospective applicants will be held May 3, 2016 at 12:00 noon MST.
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