Ten Highly Rated i3 Pre-Applicants Focus on Rural Education

Last Updated: July 27, 2012

This article appeared in the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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Ten pre-applicants who selected Rural Education as an Absolute Priority are among 124 who may proceed with a full application for the 2012 i3 Fund in the Development category.

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the pre-application review process for i3 Development grants had been completed and 124 (of 650) pre-applicants highly rated. The complete list is available here.

The i3 Fund offers nearly $150 million, through a competitive grant process, for innovative practices that “are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.”

Applicants in the Development category are eligible to compete for grants of up to $3 million each.

The 2012 Investing in Innovation (i3) competition is the third since the program was initiated in 2010 (see “About i3” below) and the first to include a pre-application process. The pre-application process was introduced to identify proposals with the greatest chance of being funded and reduce the investment of applicant resources at the early stages of the highly competitive program.

Local Education Agencies (LEAs/school districts) and nonprofit organizations in partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools are eligible to apply.

The program requires applicants to choose one of five Absolute Priorities. Those priorities and the number of highly rated pre-applicants who chose each are as follows:

  • Absolute Priority 1: Improving the Effectiveness and Distribution of Effective Teachers or Principals; 23 pre-applicants
  • Absolute Priority 2: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education; 39 pre-applicants
  • Absolute Priority 3: Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement; 32 pre-applicants
  • Absolute Priority 4: Innovations that Turn Around Persistently Low-Performing Schools; 20 pre-applicants
  • Absolute Priority 5: Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates (Rural Local Educational Agencies); 10 pre-applicants

Rural LEAs are defined as those that are eligible for the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) through either the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) programs. Applicants must identify the rural LEAs where the project will be implemented or explain how rural LEAS will be chosen and explain how the program will address the unique challenges of high-need rural students.

Rural education Absolute Priority applicants

The ten Absolute Priority 5 pre-applicants are:

  • AVID Center, California
  • Bard College, New York
  • Berea College, Kentucky
  • Lower Kuskokwim School District, Alaska
  • Riverdale Joint Unified School District, California
  • The Curators of the University of Missouri, Missouri
  • The Research Foundation of SUNY, New York
  • Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc., Virginia
  • Wellpinit School District #49, Washington
  • New Mexico Highlands University/CESDP, New Mexico

Highly rated pre-applicants are eligible to submit a full proposal and must secure a 15% private sector match. Awards will be announced by the end of the year.

About i3

The i3 Fund was initiated as part of the 2009 ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Its purpose is to provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement in order expand innovative practices shown to be effective. Grants are awarded in three categories based on the level of research evidence already acquired to support the innovation and the scale at which the applicant proposes to implement the innovation. Almost $150 million is available for the 2012 round.

Grants in the Development category, (the category with the largest number of applicants) support high-potential, relatively untested projects; applicants must demonstrate capacity to scale the project to a multi-school or regional level. Grants for as much as $3 million each will be awarded; applicants must secure a 15% private-sector match.

Grants in the Validation category require moderate evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed project and applicants must be able to scale the project to the regional or state level. Up to five grants for as much as $15 million will be awarded; applicants must secure a 10% private-sector match.

Grants in the Scale-up category require strong evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed project and applicants must be able to scale the project to the state, regional, or national level. Up to two grants for as much as $25 million will be awarded; applicants must secure a 5% private-sector match.

Applicants in all categories must conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the innovations.

During the first round of i3, the Rural Trust provided technical assistance to hundreds of applicants and matching funds to several funded projects as well as additional funding to several highly rated projects to enable them to develop their work for re-submittal. The Rural Trust continues to provide limited support.

Read more:

The U.S. Department of Education announcement of highly rated i3 Development grant pre-applicants:

The list of highly rated pre-applicants:

The U.S. Department of Education i3 website:

Read more from the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.