July 27, 2011, 12:38 am
A new report on preliminary lessons from the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation, or i3, program suggests that it has successfully promoted school-improvement strategies based on research findings but made only marginal progress in sparking innovation.
Now in its second year, the i3 program provided $650-million in its first year for grants to nonprofits and schools for innovative and proven approaches to improving student achievement.
The report, released this week by Bellwether Education Partners, is based on a survey and interviews with experts, program applicants, and philanthropists.
It says that i3 has heightened the importance of evidence—measuring results to prove that a program is working—particularly among foundations and other organizations that provided money to grant winners. It has also brought increased visibility and support to the grantees.
June 3, 2011, 11:18 am
The Education Department announced that it will award $150-million to nonprofits and school districts in the second round of grants for school-improvement projects under the Investing in Innovation program. Also known as “i3,” the program will provide the money to groups that can show evidence they will be successful.
The grant amount is down from $650-million last year, when i3 first received money under the federal economic-stimulus program. That money went to 49 groups, including $50-million each to Teach for America, the alternative teacher-training program, and the Knowledge Is Power Program, also known as KIPP, which operates charter schools.
The department said applicants for this year’s grants must focus on one of the following:
- Turning around persistently low-performing schools.
- Supporting effective teachers and principals.
- Helping schools develop high…
May 25, 2011, 3:27 pm
The Obama administration plans to spend $500-million to help states expand innovative early-learning and child-care programs, the bulk of which are operated by nonprofits.
The new fund, called the Early Learning Challenge, will consume most of the $700-million that was allocated by Congress in April for Race to the Top, the grants program to help states improve the quality of their schools.
Like previous Race to the Top competitions, the Early Learning Challenge will award grants directly to states. The program will be administered jointly by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.
Many of the details about how the program will work will not be revealed until late summer. However, the administration said in a statement that states will be encouraged to make it easier for kids from needy families to get access to programs, to align their child-care and …
May 20, 2011, 11:08 am
More than two years after President Obama took office with a pledge to expand the Harlem Children’s Zone idea to 20 communities across the nation, the Senate has introduced legislation that would make the program permanent.
Up until now, the Promise Neighborhoods program—the centerpiece of the President’s pledge—has received only temporary authority by Congress through annual spending bills.
Promise Neighborhoods is an important element of the Obama administration’s effort to promote innovative thinking in solving social problems.
In this case, the goal is to break down barriers between existing educational and social-service programs by creating umbrella groups that serve a wide array of needs in a single neighborhood. Under the approach, parents get prenatal attention and learn how to nurture a child, and family members and youngsters all participate in efforts to help…
May 18, 2011, 10:36 am
Only 18 applications are competing for the second round of grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, the new grant program to help nonprofits expand effective programs. The total is a significant drop from the 69 applications submitted in 2010 (54 of which were deemed eligible). Half of the 18 new applicants are from United Ways.
What is behind the drop in applications? It is hard to know, but there are several possible explanations.
First, there is a finite pool of potential applicants and many of those that were interested likely applied last year. Those that did and fell short may have been hesitant to reapply for fear of failing again, with all the potential embarrassment that might cause with local supporters. Indeed, of the 69 applicants in the first round last year, only seven reapplied this year.
April 28, 2011, 12:24 pm
We are now one step closer to discovering whether the Social Innovation Fund, the new federal grant program designed to help nonprofits expand effective social projects, will fulfill its promise.
Following a controversy last summer over charges that its awards process was too secretive, the fund has fallen out of the headlines. But the 11 organizations that won a total of $50-million in the first round of grants have been quietly going about distributing the money to the nonprofit groups that will actually do the work.
Among the highlights of how the 11 groups decided to give away their money:
• The grant makers—which included groups like Venture Philanthropy Partners, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and AIDS United—awarded money to 138 groups.
• When all private matching funds are secured, it is expected that they will have raised $130 million in additional money, …
April 28, 2011, 10:57 am
Overhauling education is a hot topic. It has conflict—most often between “ reformers” and teachers unions. It has rock stars who grace the covers of news magazines, appear on “60 Minutes,” and even star in the occasional movie—people like Michelle Rhee, the former Washington public-schools leader, and Harlem Children’s Zone leader Geoffrey Canada.
It also happens to center on a vitally important issue: education.
Less well known (and perhaps less advanced) is a second movement that has been brewing for several years. It has its own controversies and its own central players. They include the organizations in America Forward, a coalition of nonprofits that promote social enterprise and innovation, and journals like the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
They also include organizations with a foot in each movement, such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, KIPP charter schools, …