The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the $150 million 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition today with the release of the program's invitation for pre-applications for the i3 "Development" grant category and the notice of final priorities for the i3 program overall. Today's announcement incorporates several improvements the Department has made to the grant competition in its efforts to support school districts and nonprofit organizations in partnership with schools to pursue innovative ideas that increase student success.
"Over the past three years, we have seen a lot of promising projects from the field. At the same time, we need to continue to build a broad and deep portfolio of solutions that address persistent challenges in education, particularly for disadvantaged students," said U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton. "As we begin the fourth i3 grant competition, we look forward to supporting innovative practices in communities across the country that improve student learning."
The i3 program aims to develop and expand practices that accelerate student achievement and prepare every student to succeed in college and in their careers. The i3 program includes three grant categories: Development, Validation and Scale-up. The Department plans to announce applications for the Validation and Scale-up categories later this spring.
This year's notice of final priorities for the i3 program reflects the Department's continued commitment to improving education for all students. While the Department continues to focus on broad priorities for the i3 program, the 2013 i3 competition, for the first time, includes subparts under each priority that target specific areas of need. This approach enables the i3 program to build a portfolio of solutions that addresses specific challenges in education. This year's priorities for the Development grant category are: Improving the Effectiveness of Teachers or Principals; Improving Low-Performing Schools; Improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education; Improving Academic Outcomes for Students with Disabilities; Improving Academic Outcomes for English Learners (ELs); Improving Parent and Family Engagement; Effective Use of Technology; and Serving Rural Communities. The Department has also revised the program's evidence standards and definitions so that applicants can better understand i3's evidence requirements.
The Development category, which funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas, has been the most popular of the three grant categories throughout the previous three i3 competitions. Last year, the Department used a pre-application to reduce the burden on potential applicants and encourage a wider range of applications. Following the positive response from last year's processin which more than 650 potential grantees submitted a pre-applicationthe Department is once again using the simplified process.
In addition, this year the Department has modified the competition to assist grantees in building meaningful private-sector support. The i3 competition requires all grantees to secure private-sector matching funds; i3 Development grantees must secure a private-sector match comprising 15 percent of their budget. Each highest-rated applicant, as identified by the Department following peer review of the full applications, must submit evidence of 50 percent of the required private-sector match prior to the awarding of an i3 grant by the end of the year. The i3 grantees must then provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of the required private-sector match no later than six months after the project start date.
The deadline for the pre-application is April 26, 2013. Following the peer review process, the Department will announce a list of the highly rated pre-applications. These entities will then be invited to apply for the Development competition and given additional time to complete their full application. To learn more about the i3 grant program and the pre-application process, please visit the i3 site: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html.