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Fourth Round of Investing in Innovation Kicks Off With Pre-Screening

If you have a good, innovative idea to solve a vexing education problem—and it's relatively untested—then this pre-application process is for you.

The U.S Department of Education is accepting "pre-applications" for its small $3 million development grants, which are part of a larger $150 million Investing in Innovation grant contest. The deadline to apply is April 26. Applications for the larger "scale-up" and "validation" grants—which require more evidence of past success but can win applicants up to $25 million—will be available later this spring.

This is the second time the federal department used a pre-screening process to whittle down the potential applicants for one of its most popular grant categories. Last year, 650 applicants submitted a proposal for screening. Outside peer reviewers will help the department choose the strongest pre-applications, who will then go on to submit full applications and compete in the main contest.

It's important to note one significant change to the development grants this time around. The matching requirement—which requires winners to secure private dollars to help cover the costs of their projects—has been relaxed even further. (Past i3 winners have struggled to gain matching commitments, and keep them.) Now, development grant winners (who must secure a 15 percent private matching grant) can come up with half of that match up to six months after starting their projects.

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