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Gates Foundation Unveils Ed-Tech Grant Program

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Monday announced the creation of a program that will provide grants to organizations to expand the reach of their education technology initiatives

The Next Generation Learning Challenges program is releasing its first in a series of requests to solicit funding proposals for technology initiatives, with the first round focused specifically on postsecondary education, according to a press release. Up to $20 million could be distributed during the first wave of funding, in grants ranging between $250,000 and $750,000.

It's unclear whether future waves of funding—which are expected every six to 12 months—will consider K-12 proposals, but that seems likely considering the inclusion of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers as collaborators in the program. Bill Gates may outline more specifics about the program in a media briefing later this afternoon.

The Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, has poured billions of dollars into school improvement efforts across the K-12 spectrum, and also provides funding to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. But Next Generation Learning Challenges marks the foundation's first major ed-tech initiative.

Applicants for the first round of funding will be judged on whether their proposals address increasing the use of blended learning models, student engagement, open courseware, and learning analytics. They must submit their requests by Nov. 19, with the winners to be announced on March 31, 2011.

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