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Transparency Watch: Fountain of 'i3' Data Now Online

The Education Department has made good on promises to disclose more data on the 1,600-plus applicants for the $650 million Investing in Innovation, or i3, fund.

Officials have created a user-friendly Web portral that allows you to splice the information apart in dozens of ways. You can examine the data by geography, and figure out where the biggest—or smallest—concentrations of potential winners are located. You can see who applied for each tier of grants, how much money they want, and who their budget partners are. You can examine the applications by type of applicant, which allows you to see which school districts, nonprofits, and others are vying for this money.

I've complained before about the Education Department's difficult-to-navigate web site, and so I want to be among the first to cheer them on when they make data available in a particularly user-friendly sort of way.

The next question is whether the department has figured out when and how to make the contents of the applications available. This is especially important for the 19 applicants for the largest scale-up grants, which are worth up to $50 million each.

Regardless, the almost-winners will be announced at the end of July, according to this new frequently-asked-questions document the department put out. Winners won't be full-fledged winners until they secure that 20 percent matching grant for their project proposal, which must be done by Sept. 1, according to the FAQ document, which also provides a lot of helpful information about securing that match.

Those who can't secure their match by the Sept. 1 deadline will not win the money, and no deadline extensions will be made. And by then, it will be too late to ask for a waiver from that requirement. That had to be done as part of the applications submitted by the May 12 deadline. Only about 12 percent of applicants asked for a waiver from that requirement, according to the new i3 data available online. Applicants who requested a waiver will know if they are granted one when the almost-winners are announced at the end of July.

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