Is Your Product a Good Fit for i3 Projects?

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‘Tis the season for giving, and the US Department of Education (DoE) may have left the best gift under the tree this year: $134 million in Investing in Innovation (i3) awards.

 Last Friday, the DoE announced that the top 25 i3 applicants will receive a total of $134 million by the end of December to expand innovative practices focused on improving student achievement. To qualify for the award, each winner has already secured required matching funds from the private sector.

There are three types of i3 grants: Development (up to $3M), Validation (up to $12M), and Scale-Up (up to $20M). Development applicants propose promising new practices that are relatively untested. Validation grants support expansion of projects supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness. The Scale-Up grants focus on projects with strong evidence of effectiveness.

This year the 25 grantees only come from two pools of applicants: Development (18) and Validation (7). No Scale-Up grants will be given in this round of the competition. The term of each grant ranges from 36-60 months. Recipients are located in 13 states and DC. The projects cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Family and parent engagement
  • Rural students and communities
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

So what does this mean for you?

There are significant benefits to getting involved with i3 projects:

  • The i3 projects—and their impact on student achievement and teacher quality—receive a lot of attention across the country. Any product that successfully supports i3 gains will be sought after by districts and schools wishing to replicate the effect.
  • These days the competitive bidding process for K-12 sales often requires sales teams to provide evidence of efficacy. The rigorous and thorough research involved in i3 projects provides you an opportunity to further develop your evidence in studies funded by the grant; this can be an incredible added value for your business.
  • The i3 grants are some of the largest awards for spurring innovation in education. The size and term length of each i3 award allows good opportunities for sales if your product supports the project’s goals.

What should you do next?

Review the 25 grants to see if your product aligns with the recipients’ goals. You may think that these projects are all pre-wired for other vendors, but that is not true. Each application contains goals, implementation plans, and evaluation strategies, rather than the specific products that will be used to achieve the goals.

If you see a great match, contact the grant recipient as soon as possible, and explain why your product is best suited to make their project successful.

For all things i3-related, you can visit the DoE’s i3 program page.


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