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Competition Will Be Fierce for 'i3' Grants

About 2,490 districts and nonprofits have indicated they are going to throw their hats into the ring in hopes of nabbing part of the $650 million Investing in Innovation grant program.

That is going to require a lot of peer reviewers.

Yesterday was the deadline for applicants interested in the i3 program to file an optional notice of intent to apply with the U.S. Department of Education. This wasn't required, nor is filing a notice binding. An applicant can later decide not to apply, and those who didn't notify the department can still apply (think Michigan and Race to the Top.)

That count is very unofficial, as the U.S. Department of Education hasn't yet scrubbed it for duplicates, or for other errors. Sometime in the next week or so, the department is planning to post the list of interested applicants online.

Don't expect all of the applicants to be big urban districts either, especially since the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has just awarded the Rural School and Community Trust a $1.4 million grant to help rural school districts apply for these grants. Rural districts have long argued that they don't have the capacity to apply for competitive federal grants with such complex applications and requirements, so this grant should help level the playing field a bit.

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