Innovation Grants Available for School Districts and Non-Profits
Last August, the US Department of Education inaugurated the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund Competition to provide $650M in grants to Local Education Agencies and Non-profits. The initiative chose just 49 of 1700 applicants and although most of the funds were allocated to nationwide organizations like Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), individual schools and districts also received grants. Unfortunately, no school in the state of Delaware was awarded a share of the $650M, but several organizations with operations in the statelike Teach for America received funding as did those planning to expand into Delaware.
With the intent to apply deadline for this year’s i3 Fund Competition for $150M fast approaching, and the application deadline of August 2nd not too far away, Delaware’s schools, districts, and organizations should seriously consider applying for one of the three types of grants. The program is designed to benefit groups that have a record of and plan for increasing student achievement.
Although the guidelines for i3 remain very similar to those of last year, the 2011 competition contains a few notable differences. While new areas of focus include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (STEM) and improving low-performing schools, most of the attention surrounding this year’s competition has been over the refreshed emphasis on rural school districts. James Shelton of the Department of Education emphasized that aiding these education systems is an essential objective for this round of funding; unfortunately for Delaware, we only have one federally designated “rural” school district: Seaford. But other districts and organizations in Delaware are applicable for the program’s other stated ambitions, like lowering achievement gaps and supporting promising educational programs.
With Race for the Top in motion and other initiatives like Governor Markell’s $22M investment in early childhood education, Delaware has already begun transforming the education system. The i3 grants provide an ideal way for more schools and non-profits to assume active roles in this remarkable change.