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Highest-Rated i3 Applications 2011

Feb 15

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Wednesday, February 15, 2012  RssIcon

By Ali Palmieri
February 2012

THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION recently announced the 23 highest rated applicants for the Investing in Innovation Fund. With over 600 applicants and $150 million in funding in 2011, this was a highly anticipated competition. Awaiting a private match that was to be fulfilled by December 9th 2011, applicants ranging from school districts to nonprofits in partnership with districts or a consortium of schools would receive funding under either Scale up, Validation or Development awards. The partnership that appeared to stand out the most to reviewers were the nonprofit partnered with an LEA. They accounted for 10 of the 23 highest rated applicants. On the other end, the smallest amount of awards went to a nonprofit partnered with a consortium of schools, with 6 of the 23 highest rated applicants.

Scale-up grants, which accounted for one of the highest-rated applicants, were awarded up to $25 million to support innovation projects with the strongest evidence and track records of success. Validation grants, comprising 5 of the highest-rated applicants, received up to $15 million to fund innovations with proven effectiveness supported by moderate levels of evidence. Finally, Development grants, for which 17 applicants of the highest-rated proposals applied, provided up to $3 million to support promising but relatively untested innovation projects with high potential for positive impact.

Along with these three types of grants, there were 5 absolute priorities under which the applicants had to apply, two of which were new in this year’s competition. The two new absolute priorities focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and also rural communities and the increase of graduation rates and promotion of college education. The other three priorities consisted of raising the bar for standards and quality assessments, rewarding teachers and principals who achieved success and helping to bring up low performing schools.

The applicants that chose rural, STEM and standards and assessments were rated highest over the other 2 priorities (effective teachers and low-performing schools). On yet another level of priorities, the two competitive preference priorities that were highly rated were College Access & Success and Students with Disabilities and Limited English Proficient Students.

The breakdown of the states that received the highest rating were Arkansas, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. California and New York were in the lead with 4 of the highest-rating applications, followed by Kentucky, Maryland, and Texas with 2 applications. The rest of the states had 1 application.

Among the highest scoring projects were The Metropolitan Education Commission’s “The Wisdom Project”, the New York City Board of Education’s “InnovateNYC” and The College Board’s “Student Success in AP Biology: Expanding the STEM College Readiness of High-Need Students.” Out of these three highest rated, two were based heavily on STEM education and the ability to affect a large group of high need students. These projects clearly outline the issue at hand and create actionable solutions in order to produce results. The third project, InnovateNYC, focuses on bringing up low achieving schools and producing higher graduation rates by 2015. They plan to improve college readiness, enhance the use of technology for instruction and improve alternate education options.

As you can see, the three highest scoring applications followed the priorities word for word and took the priorities literally, translating them into achievable goals that would stand out to reviewers. The Investing in Innovation Fund provides many opportunities for schools to explore improvements through its priorities. These 23 applicants focused on the needs of the school and how to place projects into action that would affect the broadest range of students and in turn were awarded the highest scores and access to the optimal funding for the 2011 competition.

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