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Hundreds of Districts Signal Interest in Race to Top Cash

More than 400 school districts and charter school organizations have signaled their intent to compete for $120 million in Race to the Top grants that are meant to promote local innovations and improvements, according to a list published by the U.S. Department of Education.

This marks the start of the second round of the Race to the Top sweepstakes for local districts, though the money available this time around is less than half of the nearly $400 million that 16 winning districts shared in the first go-round. The contest, at least this stage, has also drawn fewer interested competitors than it did last year when nearly 900 districts said they would apply.

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Boston are among the large districts that have reported that they intend to go after the cash. Grant awards will range from $4 million to $30 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan.

A few high-profile finalists from the first round—Baltimore and St. Louis—do not appear on the list for round two, but could still apply. Notifying the Education Department of intent to apply doesn't mean all districts will follow through.

Just like the first district-level contest, the Education Department is putting a premium on personalized-learning plans for students and a sharp focus on strengthening the relationships between teachers and students. The Education Department will also give preference to districts that partner with organizations that support social and emotional needs of students.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 3.

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