The Department of Education is now accepting applications for the Investing in Innovation program (i3). These competitive grant funds are designed to support the “development of path-breaking new ideas, the validation of approaches that have demonstrated promise, and the scale-up of the nation’s most successful and proven education innovations.” Applicants need to address one or more of the ARRA priority areas: standards/assessments, teacher quality and distribution, use of data, and turning around low performing schools. Through i3, school districts, groups of districts, and nonprofits working with districts or consortia of schools are eligible for grants of up to $55 million. Applications are due in mid-May; awards will be made in September.
The largest grants (up to $50 million) will go to programs with strong evidence of success; these are called scale-up grants. Validation grants of up to $30 million will go to programs with more moderate evidence but strong promise. And $5 million development grants will go to programs with a reasonable chance of success but limited experience so far. Evidence of success is a formal eligibility requirement (unlike with other stimulus grant programs); programs without it should not apply. The final regulations include specific guidance on what constitutes evidence. Selection criteria will include: the need for and quality of the project; evidence; applicant’s track record of success; quality of proposed evaluation of a winning project; ability to scale up; sustainability; and quality of management plan and personnel. Extra points will be awarded for programs that focus on early education, college access, students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, and rural schools.
Final regulations and the application can be found: