Investing in Innovation Part 2

By Jenny House Ph. D.

Last month the 2013 round of Invest in Innovation (i3) grants was launched.  This year there will be $135 million awarded and obligated by December 31, 2013.  That will mean spending will begin in early 2014.


On May 3, the U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the second part of the competition for the Scale-up and Validation categories. This follows the pre-application process for the Development grants which closed April 26.


The goal is 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


The details are as follows:


  1. Validation Grants – The awards for these grants can be up to $12million. This year the estimate is to award 4-8 Validation grants.  The requirement is that proposals must show moderate evidence of effectiveness.  That means this innovation must have been tried and evidence collected that proves this is worthy of scaling it to the regional or state level. All eligible applicants must implement practices, strategies, or programs for high-need students.
  2. Scale-up Grants – These are the biggest grants – up to $20 million.  The estimate is that most likely there will only be 1 or 2 awards or none if there isn’t STRONG evidence of effectiveness for the project that is proposed. These projects must be able to be scaled to the national level. All eligible applicants must implement practices, strategies, or programs for high-need students.


For Validation grants, here are the priorities they must choose from:

  • Teacher and principal effectiveness
  • Improving STEM education
  • English learners
  • Improving rural achievement
  • Effective use of technology – projects that use technology to meet students’ diverse learning needs and for teaching and learning concepts that are difficult to teach using traditional approaches


For Scale-up grants, these are the priorities to choose from:

  • Teacher and principal effectiveness
  • Low performing schools
  • Improving STEM education
  • College and career ready standards
  • Improving rural achievement
  • Effective use of technology


One of the changes since the 2012 round is in the private-sector match. Validation grants must secure 10% of the award amount and Scale-up 5%.  The good news is that they only need 50% in place prior to the award and evidence of the other 50% no later than six months after starting the project.


Remember, if you are asked about participating in the private-sector match, you may offer a discount, extra professional development, in-kind services, funds, etc.  Usually there are several entities that contribute so it is not all on you and your company.


The deadline for filing the intent to apply is May 23, 2013. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, July 2nd at 4:30PM in Washington D.C.


Your call to action is to communicate with your key customers to see if they are applying for an i3 grant.  If they are, see how your solution might be able to be included or at least the category so you have an opportunity to sell into the award. If they don’t know about it, send them to