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Next Innovation Contest Begins With Pre-Screening Process

Let the third round of the Investing in Innovation contest begin.

At stake is $150 million in total grants, designed to scale up promising education improvement strategies. The awards—which are available to districts, groups of schools, and nonprofit partners—will range from $25 million in the "scale-up" category for projects that have the strongest evidence of past success to $3 million in the "development" category for projects that have much less evidence but a lot of promise.

If you want a crack at this money, for right now at least, only a pre-application screening process is open for those seeking the smallest, $3 million "development" grants. A much shorter application will be required by April 9, and if the department thinks your initial ideas are good, then you'll be invited to submit a more detailed application. This would seem to cut down on the amount of work for both applicants and the department. More information on the screening process is expected to be posted on the department's i3 website soon.

The application process for the other two categories (scale-up and validation) will be announced in coming weeks.

Unlike the two previous rounds (which awarded a combined $800 million), this round will also feature a new focus area for all applicants: family and parent engagement. (Applicants have to pick at least one focus area for their projects.) The other focus areas are teacher and principal effectiveness, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, turning around low-performing schools, and improving graduation rates in rural schools. Another focus area on standards and assessments will be available to applicants in the scale-up and validation categories.

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