Insight Grants

Investing in Innovation Fund Development Grants (i3) are Now Open!

By Jen Adams

Who is offering this grant? US Department of Education (ED)

What is the purpose? The i3 grants are designed to improve the academic achievement of high-need students by promoting promising solutions to pressing challenges in K-12 education, supporting the evaluation of these solutions, and developing new approaches to scaling effective practices to serve more students.  The application period is now open for i3 Development Grants, novel projects that are nationally significant, not projects that simply implement existing common practices in additional locations. The i3 grant program includes two additional types of grants, in addition to Development Grants–Validation Grants and Scale-up Grants—which each broaden use of practices with increased amounts of evidence of effectiveness. The application period(s) for Validation and Scale-up Grants are anticipated later in the spring of 2015.

What types of activities might be supported? All grantees must implement practices that are designed to improve student achievement or student growth, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, or increase college enrollment. Applicants must address one of the following Absolute Priorities with projects that implement practices that serve students in grades K-12.

Priority 1: Improving the Effectiveness of Principals- Under this priority, funding is provided to projects that are designed to increase the number and percentage of highly effective principals by implementing practices or strategies that support districts in hiring, evaluating, supporting, and retaining effective principals.

Priority 2: Improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education – This priority seeks projects that reach students beyond the boundaries of the traditional school day (i.e. during out-of-school time or extended-day programs) and provide meaningful, real-world STEM learning experiences that will inspire students’ interest in STEM and give them the tools they need to meet the demands of dynamic labor markets.

Priority 3: Leveraging Technology to Support Instructional Practice and Professional Development – Under this priority, funding is provided to projects that are designed to leverage technology use in the classroom to support student learning and inform teacher professional development. This notice seeks projects that use technological tools that enable the development, visualization, and rapid analysis of data to inform instructional practices and improve learning outcomes.

Priority 4: Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors – Under this priority, funding is provided to projects that are designed to improve students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors (such as academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and approaches toward learning strategies), as well as enhance student motivation and engagement in learning.

Priority 5: Serving Rural Communities – Focus on serving rural communities. *Applicants applying under this priority must also address one of the other four absolute priorities established.

A competitive preference priority is also extended to novice applicants to the i3 program (additional 3 points scored).

Who can apply? Eligible applicants include either of the following: a) a local education agency (LEA—school districts, educational service agencies, some charter schools) OR b) A partnership between a nonprofit organization and—1) One or more LEAs; or 2) A consortium of schools. Evidence of a record of improving academic achievement must also be demonstrated. See full RFP for details.

How much is available? Estimated Available Funds for 2015 are $112,400,000. This is the total available for all three types of grants under the i3 program (Development, Validation, and Scale-up Grants).

When is the application due? Deadline for the non-mandatory Notice of Intent to Submit for Development Grants: April 20, 2015; Deadline for Pre-applications for Development grants: April 29, 2015–changed to May 5, 2015 on April 15, 2015. In order to be eligible to submit a full application, organizations MUST submit pre-applications.  Organizations with high-scoring pre-applications will be invited to submit full applications. Organizations that submitted pre-applications that were not considered “high-scoring” can still choose to submit full applications if they would like to.

How much can I request? Development Grant applicants can request up to $3,000,000 per grant application for the full project period. ED anticipates 9-11 i3 Development grant awards will be made in 2015. NOTE that applicants may submit more than one i3 application, but each applicant can win no more than 2 i3 awards of any kind in a single year. In a single two-year period, no applicant may win more than one Validation or Scale-up grant. In 2015, no grantee may be awarded more than $23 Million total in i3 funds.

Do I have to offer a match of any kind? Yes. An applicant must obtain matching funds or in-kind donations from the private sector equal to at least 15% of the grant award. Each applicant, following peer review of the applications, must submit evidence of at least 50% of the required private-sector match prior to award. Evidence of the remaining 50% match must be provided no later than three months after the project start date (or the grant will be terminated).

 How long is the project period? 3, 4, or 5 years

Is there anything else I should know? The design of i3 links the amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the proposed project. In other words, applicants proposing practices that are supported by limited evidence can receive relatively small grants to further develop the practice. Applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations can receive sizable grants to support expansion across the country. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice included in their applications is supported by either evidence of promise or a strong theory.

How can I find out more? Visit the official i3 program site: View the Notice Inviting Applications at: View the FAQs at Go to to sign up for ED’s question and answer webinar to be held April 9, 2015 at 2pm Eastern or to view the 2015 competition PowerPoint.


If you are looking for assistance with your application, Insight would be pleased to help you! For information on pricing for grant writing or editing for this program, please contact Rosalie Mangino-Crandall at 716-474-0981 or

Insight Grants