On December 15, the US Department of Education (USDE) announced the launch of the Education Innovation Research (EIR) grant competition, which was established under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), for 2017. President Obama has requested $180 million for the program in his FY 2017 budget, though the money has not yet been appropriated.
The purpose of the bi-partisan grant competition is to support state and local efforts to develop, implement, and bring to scale innovative and evidence-based projects, with about a quarter of the funds specifically dedicated to supporting rural areas.
“In public education, as in other sectors, innovation drives change. The Department is excited to support local innovations from states, districts, education nonprofits and their partners in communities across the country,” said Nadya Chinoy Dabby, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.
EIR will award three types of grants:
- Early-phase grants: For the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of practices that are expected to be novel and significant, and have potential for future scaling.
- Mid-phase grants: For projects to refine and expand the use of practices with some prior evidence of effectiveness.
- Expansion grants: To scale practices that have strong prior evidence of effectiveness.
All EIR grant winners are expected to focus on improving outcomes for high-need students, which the USDE defines as students who are at risk for educational failure. However, the grant application also calls for a wide variety of projects that are designed to address “persistent education challenges,” like school climate or preparing students for college and careers.
EIR is the successor of the Obama Administration’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program, which was established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and, since then, has invested invested $1.4billion in 172 i3 projects across all 50 states.
The three Minnesota winners of i3 grants are:
- Search Institute won a four-year, $5 million Development grant in 2010.
- Regents of the University of Minnesota won a five-year, $15 million Validation grant in 2011.
- College Possible won a five-year, $3 million Development grant in 2014.
Applications for the EIR grants are due April 13, 2017, but the deadline for the notice of intent to apply is February 13, 2017. All applications will be evaluated by peer reviewers, with the inaugural cohort of EIR winners scheduled to be announced in fall 2017.