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Ten Investing in Innovation Applicants Home in on Rural Education

Although federal officials made rural education one of five priority areas in the 2012 federal Investing in Innovation grant competition, only 10 rural education groups qualified to submit "development" grants.

The U.S. Department of Education released in early July a list of the 124 applicants that were highly rated for the "development" grants, which meant they could submit full proposals. The program requires applicants to choose one of five priority areas, and the smallest number chose rural education. Each of the other areas had at least twice as many top-rated applicants.

Still, the overall percentage of rural pre-applicants that were invited to turn in full proposals was similar to other categories, John White, the U.S. Department of Education's deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach, told the Rural Ed blog this week.

Nineteen percent of those that submitted rural education proposals were invited to apply, which was the same percentage as those focused on the priority areas of school turnaround and STEM. The other two priority areas were at either 18 or 20 percent.

"We are confident that there are enough quality applications to ensure significant investments in promising rural projects," White said.

He also pointed out that some of the other priority areas still will serve rural areas.

The Rural School and Community Trust highlighted the 10 rural groups in its recent newsletter, but it offered little further analysis. The list includes:

  • AVID Center in California;

  • Bard College in New York;

  • Berea College in Kentucky;

  • Lower Kuskokwim School District in Alaska;

  • Riverdale Joint Unified School District in California;

  • The Curators of the University of Missouri in Missouri;

  • The Research Foundation of SUNY in New York;

  • Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc. in Virginia;

  • Wellpinit School District #49 in Washington; and

  • New Mexico Highlands University/CESDP in New Mexico.

Some of these groups have a history of either winning or competing for i3 grants. Berea College, for example, won a $3 million i3 grant this past December and has been working to increase access to and enrollment in Advancement Placement courses.

The 2012 federal Investing in Innovation grant competition will award nearly $150 million to education initiatives that have the potential to improve student achievement and warrant further exploration. Winners will be announced by the end of the year.

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