Maine schools can get funds to innovate

Maine school districts have a chance this summer to prove they have a plan for boosting achievement in rural high schools, or deploying a cutting-edge science and technology program, and get it funded to the tune of millions of dollars.

The U.S. Department of Education is making $150 million available for a second round of Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants for individual school districts, consortia of school districts and non-profit organizations that partner with districts.

This time around, the competition comes with a special emphasis on programs that boost achievement and graduation rates in rural high schools and initiatives that promote science, technology, engineering and math education.

The i3 program also prioritizes initiatives focused on teacher and administrator effectiveness, high standards and high-quality assessments, and turning around low-performing schools.

Applications are due Aug. 2, and notices of intent to apply are due June 23.

Three types of grants are available:

  • Scale-up grants of up to $25 million to fund existing programs with long track records of success.
  • Validation grants of up to $15 million to verify the effectiveness of existing programs with shorter track records.
  • Development grants of up to $3 million to fund new initiatives.

Applicants need to secure private-sector matches of, respectively, 5, 10 or 15 percent of the value of the requested grant.