Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Education Department Unveils Investing In Innovation Fund Criteria.

Here is a reprint from the Associated Press giving some information on how stimulus dollars are being spent. Although most of the $5 billion of stimulus money is targeted for the states, at least $650 million will be going directly to schools to try to improve the quality of education in this country.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- School districts and nonprofit partners can benefit from a $650 million competitive grant fund for school reforms pushed by President Barack Obama.

The money is part of the economic stimulus law, which gave Obama $5 billion to help overhaul schools. Most of the money is for states, but $650 million will go directly to school districts or schools in partnership with colleges, philanthropies, nonprofit companies that turn around failing schools or other nonprofit groups.

The idea is to provide seed money for fresh ideas and for smaller programs that need help to expand.

''This is an unprecedented investment in cutting-edge ideas,'' Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

Duncan issued rules for the competition Tuesday. The Education Department plans to publish a final application early next year, accept proposals in the spring and award the money by Sept. 30, 2010.

In August, Duncan said Teach for America and programs like it could benefit from the competition. Begun in 1990, the nonprofit recruits recent college graduates to teach in schools in poor communities for at least two years. The group sent an unprecedented 4,100 recruits into the classroom this fall.

Duncan also talked about charter schools, which are taxpayer-funded schools that operate independently of local school boards. Obama wants to expand the number of charter schools, which are an estimated 4,100 of the country's nearly 100,000 public schools.

Duncan said the biggest grants from the $650 million ''Investing in Innovation'' fund will go to programs that have been proven to work. Grants for those programs could reach $50 million.

Programs that need money to expand or build a research base could get grants of up to $30 million, and promising ideas worth trying could get grants of up to $5 million, he said.

Obama announced the rules for the $5 billion state grant competition in July, and that money should be awarded early next year.

John Kaighn

Jersey Benefits Advisors

The Kaighn Report