When charter schools and their supporters are looking for federal funds, most head straight for the Office of Innovation and Improvement’s (OII’s) Charter Schools Program (CSP). With a FY 2013 budget of about $242 million, the CSP administers eight grant programs, which have contributed to what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently described as the “extraordinary accomplishments” of charter schools in the past two decades.
Topping the list of accomplishments, Secretary Duncan indicated in his recent keynote address at the National Charter Schools Conference, “is that high-performing charters have irrefutably demonstrated that low-income children can and do achieve at high levels.”
CSP’s grant programs aim squarely at helping disadvantaged children to achieve academically through the creation of more high-quality educational options. These include the Replication and Expansion for High Performing Charter Schools program, which provides funds for nonprofits, including charter management organizations, to grow existing charter schools or open new ones based on models that have demonstrated success.
But two other highly competitive and high-profile Department of Education grants outside of CSP have similarly supported at-risk children attending charter schools — the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund and the Race to the Top‑District (RTT-D) programs. One session at the national conference focused on these programs, which have allowed charter schools and charter management organizations to grow in number, in impact, and in quality.
I was truly inspired by the peer–to-peer learning that quickly developed into the pervasive spirit of this year’s Promise Neighborhoods Directors Meeting. Our annual convening on June 13-14 brought together more than 250 administrators, evaluators, and practitioners to strengthen relationships, forge new ties, and expand our knowledge of how to truly construct a cradle-to-career promise in our communities. Peers shared tips on how to effectively administer the program, apply solutions to nagging community challenges, and effectively use their data to drive results.
I wanted to take the time to introduce myself to all of you and to thank you for stopping by our corner of the Web. Through my work at the Department over the last few years — whether through some of its programs, like Investing in Innovation or Charter Schools, or through other initiatives like encouraging evidence-based funding — as well as through previous roles I held prior to joining the current administration, I have had the great opportunity to meet many of you.
On June 3, 2013, I became the acting assistant deputy secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education. Succeeding former Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton, who is currently the Department’s acting deputy secretary, will no doubt be challenging, but I am looking forward to the work and rewards that lie ahead.
Ten grantees of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) are also 2012 Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) grant-award winners. On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, the Department of Education announced 16 RTT-D applicants that competed successfully for the first-time district-level grants that will support reform efforts in 55 school districts across 11 states.
(December 18, 2012) Today the U.S. Department of Education announced all 20 of the highest-rated applicants in the 2012 Investing in Innovation (i3) competition have secured their required private-sector matching funds and have become official i3 grantees. Together, they will share more than $140 million in federal funds to expand innovative practices designed to accelerate achievement and help prepare every student to succeed in college and in their careers.
“We know private partners play a huge role in driving local education reform efforts when they can invest in promising ideas, and these grantees have proposed a variety of innovative approaches to close achievement gaps and ultimately prepare every student for lifelong success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Partnerships like these are vital to supporting teachers and students as they tackle some of the toughest issues in education.”