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20 Districts, Nonprofits Set to Share $150 Million in New i3 Awards

Twenty winners are slated to share $150 million in prize money from the third round of the Investing in Innovation competition, the U.S. Department of Education just announced.

Eight of those won "validation" awards of up to $15 million, and the remaining 12 won "development" awards of up to $3 million.

Interestingly, the department chose not to award any grants in the largest "scale up" category, where the grants were worth up to $25 million. In a FAQ document explaining the awards, the department says it wanted a larger portfolio of grantees, and awarding a large $25 million grant would have eaten up a lot of the award money.

The i3 contest, which was born out of the 2009 economic-stimulus package passed by Congress, is designed to find innovative ideas and bring them to scale. School districts, groups of schools and their nonprofit partners competed in the three categories, which varied based on how much evidence of past success an idea had. The scale up category requires the strongest track record of success, where as the development category requires much less evidence but a lot of promise.

Now the only thing standing between the winners and their money is securing matching funds. Development award winners must secure a 15 percent match, and validation winners a 10 percent match. Securing matching grants—and keeping that money—has proven quite challenging for some past i3 winners.

Applicants have until Dec. 7 to secure their matching funds, after which they will get their grant.

The validation winners are: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, Jobs for the Future, LEED Sacramento, National Writing Project, New Leaders, Inc., New Teacher Center, Texas A&M University, and WestEd.

WestEd also won a development grant, along with AVID Center, California Association for Bilingual Education, California League of Middle Schools, Central Falls School District, Citizen Schools, Inc., Clark County School District, Columbia College Chicago, Intercultural Development Research Association, Internationals Network For Public Schools, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc.

Read more about the winners here.

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