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U.S. Department of Education: Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities

Deadline: February 13, 2017

The Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities Program supports Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and their communities in preparing to implement effective, ambitious, comprehensive, and locally driven strategies to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools and LEAs as a means to improve the achievement of students in the lowest-performing schools. LEAs will be supported in two different stages of increasing socioeconomic diversity in their schools, as follows:

  • First, the program supports an LEA, or a consortium of LEAs, to: (1) analyze existing challenges and devise potential solutions for increasing socioeconomic diversity in their schools; and (2) create a blueprint for improving academic outcomes for students in their lowest-performing schools by substantially increasing socioeconomic diversity in their lowest-performing schools by the end of the 2025–2026 school year and a strategy for implementing that blueprint.
  • Second, the program supports an LEA, or a consortium of LEAs, that have existing or established efforts to improve student outcomes by increasing socioeconomic diversity, to: (1) analyze existing challenges and devise potential solutions for further increasing socioeconomic diversity in their schools; (2) publish a blueprint for building on these existing efforts to improve academic outcomes for students in their lowest-performing schools by substantially increasing and maintaining socioeconomic diversity in their lowest-performing schools by the end of the 2025–2026 school year; and (3) execute one or more pre-implementation activities that will contribute to the possible full implementation of the blueprint after the grant period.

The resulting blueprints will: (1) provide a publicly available implementation plan for the grantee LEAs and their communities to support efforts to increase the socioeconomic diversity in their schools; (2) serve as a resource for local and state policy decisions that could reduce barriers to, and build support for, increasing socioeconomic diversity in schools; and (3) serve as a resource for other communities considering similar approaches.

The Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities includes three Absolute Priorities and two Competitive Preference Priorities. Applicants must meet Absolute Priority 1 AND either Absolute priority 2 or Absolute Priority 3. Priorities are as follows:

Absolute Priority 1 – Increasing Socioeconomic Diversity in Schools: Projects are designed to increase socioeconomic diversity in educational settings by addressing one or more of the following:

(a) Using established survey or data collection methods to identify socioeconomic stratification and related barriers to socioeconomic diversity at the classroom, school, district, community, or regional level.
(b) Designing or implementing, with community input, education funding strategies, such as the use of weighted per-pupil allocations of local, state, and eligible federal funds, to provide incentives for schools and districts to increase socioeconomic diversity.
(c) Developing or implementing policies or strategies to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools that are evidence-based; demonstrate ongoing, robust family and community involvement, including a process for intensive public engagement and consultation; and meet one or more of the following factors: (i) are carried out on one or more of an intra-district, inter-district, community, or regional basis; (ii) reflect coordination with other relevant government entities, including housing or transportation authorities, to the extent practicable; and (iii) include one or both of the following strategies: establishing school assignment or admissions policies that are designed to give preference to low-income students, students from low-performing schools, or students residing in neighborhoods experiencing concentrated poverty to attend higher-performing schools; or establishing or expanding schools that are designed to attract substantial numbers of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, such as magnet or theme schools, charter schools, or other schools of choice.

Absolute Priority 2 – Improving Schools by Increasing Student Diversity—Blueprint: To meet this priority, the applicant must propose to develop a blueprint for improving student academic outcomes in SIG Schools or SIG-Eligible Schools by increasing the diversity of students enrolled in those schools and, at the applicant’s discretion, other schools in the LEA(s) to be served. Applicants under this priority may only use funds for planning activities.

Absolute Priority 3 – Improving Schools by Increasing Student Diversity—Blueprint and Pre-implementation: To meet this priority, the applicant must propose to: (1) develop a blueprint for improving student academic outcomes in SIG Schools or SIG-Eligible Schools by increasing the diversity of students enrolled in those schools and, at the applicant’s discretion, other schools in the LEA(s) to be served, including by expanding existing plans of the LEA(s) to increase student diversity in schools; and (2) execute one or more pre-implementation activities that are outlined in existing plans. The applicant must also provide evidence of its existing diversity plans.

Competitive Preference Priority 1 – Blueprint for Inter-District Efforts to Increase Student Diversity (up to six additional points): This priority is for applicants that propose to develop a blueprint that includes establishing or expanding an inter-district partnership that provides students with increased educational options by allowing them to attend schools in another LEA. Under this priority, an inter-district partnership may be between contiguous or noncontiguous LEAs.

Competitive Preference Priority 2 – Efforts to Increase Student Diversity in Rural Schools (zero or three points): This priority is for applicants that propose to serve at least one SIG School or SIG-Eligible School designated as a Rural School. If applying as a consortium, at least one LEA in the consortium must have at least one SIG School or SIG-Eligible School designated as a Rural School.

Amount: A total of $12,000,000 is available to make 8-10 awards. Absolute Priority 2 awards will average around $500,000 and range up to $750,000. Absolute Priority 3 awards will average around $1,000,000 and range up to $1,500,000. The project period is up to 26 months for both priorities.

Eligibility: (a) Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) with at least one SIG School or SIG-Eligible School; and (b) a consortium of LEAs, each with at least one SIG School or SIG-Eligible School in each member LEA.

Applicable definitions:

  • SIG-Eligible School means either: (a) a school that is identified in the state’s most recently approved State SIG application as a Tier I or Tier II school; or (b) for a state that previously received approval of its ESEA flexibility request, any school identified as a priority or focus school by the state under ESEA flexibility for the 2016–2017 school year.
  • SIG School means either: (a) a Tier I or Tier II school as defined in the SIG final requirements published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2015 (80 FR 7223) that is, as of the date of the application, implementing one of the SIG intervention models or a planning year in preparation to implement a model, including any school identified as a Tier I or Tier II school in the state’s most recently approved state SIG application; or (b) for a state that previously received approval of its ESEA flexibility request, any school identified as a priority or focus school by the state under ESEA flexibility for the 2016–2017 school year that is, as of the date of the application, implementing one of the SIG intervention models or a planning year in preparation to implement a model.

Link: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=290698

Note: A pre-application webinar will be held on January 5, 2016. A notice of intent to apply deadline is January 13, 2017.

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