by Jen Donovan
The Investing in Innovation Fund, also called i3 Fund, provides eligible local education agencies and non-profit education organizations with the funding they need to continue their successful work with students. The i3 competitive grant, which consists of $150 million to be shared among different awards, has been of high interest among education agencies from all regions of the US. This year the plan is to broaden the range of applicants and award the newer promising programs with the funds required to enhance the resources and abilities and continue improving student results.
There are three levels of i3 grants that an organization may receive based on their application and merits of success:
1.) Scale-up, which awards individual grants of up to $25 million to projects with the strongest evidence and proven track records of success
2.) Validation, which awards individual grants of up to $15 million to projects with moderate levels of evidence
3.) Development, which awards individual grants of up to $3 million to projects working on new and high potential practices that merit further exploration and research
The US Department of Education has added a preliminary application for those interested in the i3 grant competition this year. This year special focus will be placed on programs and practices that apply for the $3 million Development grant which involves investing in untested, yet promising programs that display true innovation in education. With the shorter pre-application, smaller districts and organizations will have the chance to participate in the i3 competition. This new application will be more concise and require fewer documents than previous years, allowing a variety of institutions to apply.
The Department of Education is interesting in investing in all levels of educational potential, but the competitive edge is given to those applicants who focus on improving early learning outcomes, increasing college access and success, addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency, improving productivity, and the use of technology.
Through the Development grant competition, the Department will include a special priority of improving parent and family engagement in the process. According to Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement, “Parent and family engagement is a critical component of student success, but there are too few models with evidence of effectiveness. By using i3 to shine a spotlight on this need and on promising approaches, we hope to identify new solutions of national importance.”
Once the top primary applicants for the Development grant are accepted, they will be asked to fill out a longer, more in-depth application following up on the work they do and reasons why they should receive the grant. These applicants will also be given more time to complete the longer application.
The 2012 Investing in Innovation Development grant aims to support successful overall student outcomes, especially within underdeveloped schools and rural areas. The competition is already under way with April 9 as the deadline for all pre-applications.
Visit the website for the i3 Funds for the new Development application and more information.