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Welcome to the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), where our mission is to accelerate the pace at which the U.S. identifies, develops, and scales solutions to education’s most important or persistent challenges. OII makes strategic investments in innovative educational programs and practices, and administers more than 25 discretionary grant programs managed by four program offices: Charter Schools ProgramParental Options and Improvement, Teacher Quality Programs, and the Office of Investing in Innovation. In addition, OII is home to ED’s STEM initiatives team and ED’s liaison to the military community.  OII also serves as the Department’s liaison and resource to the nonpublic education community through the Office of Non-Public Education.

This home page provides news about OII — its programs, grantees, and initiatives — through articles, blogs, press releases, and links to the Department’s home page.

Click here to see a list and descriptions of OII’s programs and here for key staff.

New Funding Opportunity for Public Charter Schools: Non-SEA Competition Opens

  • On August 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $4,000,000 million non-State Educational Agency (non-SEA) grant competition for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of high-quality start-up charter schools. The grants will also support dissemination of best practices for charter schools that have a proven track record of success and have been in operation for at least three years.
  • These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants in September 2015. Since the non-SEA competition has opened before new SEA grants have been awarded, non-SEA applicants may, in some cases, submit applications to the non-SEA competition and become ineligible for those grants if their state is awarded an SEA grant.
  • Despite that possibility, even if your state has applied for an SEA grant in this year’s round, interested charter school operators may still apply. If your state wins an SEA grant—making you ineligible for a non-SEA grant—you can likely repurpose much of your application if you apply for a subgrant from a winning SEA.
  • We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in December 2015. This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via an SEA subgrant competition or the non-SEA grant competition. Again, even if your SEA has submitted an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • Interested applicants must apply by October 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time.
  • Please visit the Non-SEA Competition page to learn more.
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    New and Upcoming Funding Opportunities for Public Charter Schools

    • This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $116 million grant competition focused on starting up new, high-quality charter schools via a State Education Agency (SEA) competition for the first time since 2011. We anticipate awarding these SEA grants in September 2015.
    • In the coming weeks, we will announce another grant competition to support the start-up of new charter schools via the “non-SEA” competition. These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants. We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in fall 2015—after September 2015.
    • This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via the SEA or the non-SEA grant competition. Even if a charter school operator’s SEA plans to submit an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
    • Please visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/csp/index.html to learn more.

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    U.S. Dept. of Education Senior Program Advisor Brad Jupp and Policy Advisor Kelly Fitzpatrick Discuss New Skills for Success Grant

    In this video, former middle school teacher and current Senior Program Advisory Brad Jupp discusses why he thinks the Skills for Success grant competition addresses some of the most important challenges that our schools and students face.

     

    In this video, former middle school teacher and current Policy Advisor Kelly Fitzpatrick discusses why she believes the Skills for Success grant competition can have a major impact on the lives of students like the ones she taught in her middle school.

    Charter Schools Program Seeking Reviewers for State-Level Grant Competition

    The Office of Innovation and Improvement is seeking peer reviewers for the FY 2015 Charter Schools Program (CSP) State Educational Agency (SEA) grant competition. This is a competitive grant program that enables SEAs to provide financial assistance, through subgrants to eligible applicants, for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools and for the dissemination of information about successful charter schools.

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    Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs.

    Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs.

    Team Cupcake, Team Imaginators, Team Spaced Out, and Thinkers of Tomorrow. These are some of the hard-working student teams that can say that they have tackled challenges similar to those faced by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and engineers.

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    STEM Programs at the Department of Education: Supporting Teachers and Students

    This week, the President recognized some of the best and brightest science and engineering students from across the country during the 2015 White House Science Fair. At the Department of Education (the Department), we share the President’s commitment to supporting science education that is student-centered and grounded in real-world settings. We have made great strides in improving and broadening science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for all students by including STEM priorities in dozens of competitive grant programs in recent years. Most recently, the Department announced that the 2015 Ready-to-Learn Television grant competition will, for the first time, include a priority to support the development of television and digital media focused on science.

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    Update on OII’s FY 2015 Grant Competitions

    For the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2015, the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) will conduct 11 grant competitions in six program areas: Arts in Education, Charter Schools, Investing in Innovation, Opportunity Scholarship, Ready to Learn Television, and Supporting Effective Educator Development. Announcements of these competitions began this month and will continue through this spring and summer.

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    Teaching and Learning are Personal and Collaborative at Jones Elementary

    At Jones Elementary School in Springdale, Ark., the number of students reading on grade level has almost tripled — from 26 to 73 percent — in eight years. “Our students succeed because we have teachers who expect them to succeed,” explains Principal Melissa Fink about this and other achievements of the schools’ nearly 600 students, 99 percent of whom live in poverty. In addition to believing in each student’s potential, she and the Jones Elementary faculty work to strategically remove obstacles to learning, make teacher teamwork a top priority, and effectively use data to improve teaching and learning.

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