Chosen from a pool of nearly 1,700 applicants, the finalists include four organizations — the KIPP Foundation, Ohio State University, the Success for All Foundation, and Teach for America — that are eligible for grants of up to $50 million to scale-up education programs with proven track records. Fifteen applicants are eligible for grants of up to $30 million to cultivate programs with emerging evidence of success, and thirty are eligible for grants of up to $5 million for the development of promising ideas. The finalists will focus on projects in two hundred and fifty communities in more than forty-two states and two territories.
The organizations have until September 8 to secure private-sector matching funds worth 20 percent of each grant, unless they have received a waiver from the DOE. A group of private foundations has set up the Foundation Registry i3 Web site to help finalists find matching dollars.
The i3 fund is an effort to reward school districts, consortia of schools, and nonprofits with innovative proposals focused on improving teacher effectiveness, low-performing schools, standards and assessments, and data systems. Unlike the higher-profile Race to the Top fund, there is only one round of competition for i3, and there were fewer guidelines on how proposals should be shaped.
During a teleconference, DOE assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement Jim Shelton said the department will do whatever it can to find money from other sources to pay for the projects that will not get federal dollars this year, including organizing a summit in November at which non-finalists will be able to present their ideas directly to nonprofits and other groups with money to invest, Education Week reports. "We got tremendous response from across the country," said Shelton. "We were really struck by the number of high-quality applicants and winners who were not among the usual suspects."