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Grant Program Funds Charter-District Cooperation

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Federal officials are sponsoring a new grant competition designed to promote collaboration between charter schools and traditional public schools that want to work together to improve academic achievement and overall educational services.

By the often-gargantuan standards of the federal government, the grant program is relatively miniscule—just $500,000 in total funding is being made available. But charter-district collaboration is an idea that has been kicking around for a while in school systems and individual schools. See my colleague Christina Samuels' recent story, for instance, on efforts in the Houston schools to replicate some of the best ideas from charters.

The new grant program is being run out of the U.S. Department of Education's Charter Schools Program, which also oversees a number of larger grant competitions that support the replication of high-performing charters, the planning and design of charters, and other efforts. The awards for the new collaboration grants are likely to range from just $50,000 to $200,000 per award, the department says. Department officials say many of the strategies for collaboration, such as coordinating lesson planning for schools with similiar populations, examining how school climate could be improved, or arranging regular meetings to share ideas, won't necessarily cost a lot of money.

The overall goal is for charter and non-charter schools to "share resources and responsibilities; build trust and teamwork; boost academic excellence; and provide students and their parents with a range of effective educational options," according to the the notice from the department, which says it wants to promote collaborations that work.

Applications are due Aug. 29.

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