The Department of Education’s Innovation Zone is poised to bring home millions of dollars in federal innovation funding for the second year in a row.
The Obama administration yesterday released a list of 23 Investing in Innovation grant applicants that it wants to fund. The groups, culled from nearly 600 applicants, will share a $150 million pool of funding. The groups have until next month to line up matching funds from other sources to secure their grants.
The DOE’s InnovateNYC program landed high on the list of applicants aiming to bolster science and technology education, putting it in line to receive $3 million in federal funding. The department will use the funding to connect its Office of Innovation with private partners and other school districts as it designs technologies for schools, according to Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
“There is so much potential for technology as a tool that helps students get on track for college and careers — but right now, engineers and developers need a better understanding of the challenges facing New York City and other urban school districts,” he said in a statement.
Last year, when the Obama administration made $650 million available, another city Innovation Zone program, School of One, won $5 million to develop its computerized math teaching program. (School of One is part of InnovateNYC.) But the city’s request for innovation funding for other purposes, such as to open new small schools, was turned down.
A report by school reform advocates this summer argued that School of One was part of a slim coterie of first-round i3 winners that actually promoted substantive changes to the way schooling is done. I wrote about the report, by Bellwether Education Partners, for GOOD Magazine in August:
The Bellwether report concludes that i3 fell short because its two central tenets, “innovation” and “scale,” actually worked against each other: True innovation starts small, so most reforms that are ready to be scaled up are by definition no longer innovative. “Requiring a ‘proven track record’ may have shut out applicants that could have delivered more truly break-the-mold innovations,” the report says.
The DOE is not the only local group that made the new i3 shortlist. New Visions for Public Schools, which works with dozens of city schools, is in line to receive nearly $13 million for its algebra instructional program. And the New York Hall of Science, a museum and education center in Queens, will get nearly $3 million to develop games to help students learn science.