The application windows for two major education funding buckets from the Department of Education are now open. According to Elizabeth Evans, of the Grants Office LLC, the Education Innovation and Research Grants program (K-12) and the suite of grant programs falling under Title III and V of the Higher Education Act (e.g. Strengthening Institutions Program) present educators with the opportunity to access funding that will improve the learning environments for students.
Education Innovation and Research Grants for K-12 Schools
The competition for the 2019 Education Innovation and Research grants opened on February 1st, 2019. The highly competitive grants invite schools and districts to field test new and innovative programs in the field of education. “The priority areas for the grant used to change every year,” said Evans, “but under Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration there have only been two funding buckets – general and STEM with a focus on Computer Science.” As well as covering several areas of innovation, grants are also organized into ‘Early-phase,’ ‘Mid-phase,’ and ‘Expansion’ tiers to enable schools and districts to research the impacts and effectiveness of programs on educational outcomes over time.
“Typically, applicants will begin preparation as many as six months out to gather initial data and peer reviewed articles for reference, but there is still ample time for those just hearing about the program to get started now” Evans shared. It’s an intense and competitive grant application process by anyone’s standards, but there are generally 20 to 25 awards available, in the region of $4 million. The deadline is April 4th, 2019.
Evans also shared some additional good news for those applying for grants. “The grants have a cost share requirement, where ten percent of the grant must be matched by the school or district, which used to put a lot of pressure on the grant recipient since the matching funds could only come from private sources,” said Evans. “However, now, the matching funds can come from a variety of sources, including state and local funding, as well as private sources.”
A full description of the grants can be found here at the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.
Title III and Title V Grants for Colleges and Universities
For Title III and Title V colleges and universities, the Strengthening Institutions grants are designed to help them become “self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen [their] academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.” Based on that description the types of activities and programs that can be funded by a Strengthening Institution grant are incredibly broad. “Title grants are very flexible for funding. They can cover areas as diverse as faculty development, establishing endowment funds, or investing in the core IT infrastructure of the institution,” said Evans.
However, while the grants cover a broad range of areas, higher educational institutions must continuously check that they are eligible to apply for, and then continue to receive, a grant. “Because the composition of a student body can change year to year, colleges and universities must be on top of their eligibility status and – if necessary – submit waivers for their core expenses or needy student requirements,” shared Evans. “The data entry process is definitely tedious, but thankfully the eligibility matrix makes it very clear if an institution can or cannot apply for a particular Title III or V grant under the Higher Education Act, or if an eligibility waiver needs to be submitted first.”
A full description of the Title III and Title V grants, including Strengthening Institutions Grants can be found here.