Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday announced nine winners of Innovation Fund grants, a $19.4 million competitive grant program created through Georgia’s Race to the Top (RT3) plan. Through the Innovation Fund, the state awards grants to partnerships between local education authorities or charter schools, institutions of higher education, businesses and nonprofit organizations that develop or implement innovative and high-impact programs aimed at producing positive outcomes for students.
"The Innovation Fund empowers local communities to work together and think creatively about how to best address their educational needs,” Deal said in a news release Tuesday. “The nine grant awards we make today represent a wide range of projects with the potential to serve as tomorrow’s best practices.”
Among the nine grants was one titled “Community Partnership for a Quality Pipeline of Effective High School Leaders.” It will have the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement supporting the Paulding County School System to build district capacity and create a pipeline of effective high school leaders.
Return to Dallas-Hiram Patch next week for more coverage on Paulding's grant and how the district will utilize it.
Administered by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Innovation Fund provides competitive grants for proposals that creatively leverage members’ financial, human and intellectual resources to address one or more of the following priorities:
- Raising student achievement through the development and delivery of applied learning opportunities and experiences directly tied to a subject matter, especially in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
- Raising teacher effectiveness through support for innovative induction programs to bridge the gap between pre-service and career teaching, focusing on providing structured and intensive support to new teachers and leaders.
- Increasing the pipeline of effective educators by developing local capacity through Grow Your Own Teacher programs in rural regions to increase the workforce, especially in high-need subject areas.
- Developing or expanding charter schools with special characteristics and that leverage nontraditional partnerships with industry partners and/or post-secondary institutions throughout the state to provide students with unique learning opportunities.
Applicants were also able to apply under an “open” priority, with the only criteria being that the proposal concept is new to the state of Georgia and an “out of the box” idea that poses a significant impact to student achievement.
The state will use the Innovation Fund to determine best practices in innovative programming related to STEM education, applied learning and teacher and leader recruitment and development to influence future education policy efforts. At the core of the Innovation Fund is the following theory: If public and private organizations are encouraged by financial resources, policy environments and supportive operating conditions, then the state of Georgia will be benefit from a stronger commitment from diverse stakeholders to support and advance K-12 public education, the ability to replicate innovative practices with a demonstrated record of success, and ultimately, improved outcomes for students. Information about the Innovation Fund may be found on the GOSA website.
Georgia was awarded $400 million to implement its RT3 reform plan in August 2010. The state’s application was prepared with extensive input from education stakeholders and members of the business and philanthropic communities, who helped develop the idea to include the Innovation Fund in the state’s application. As interest in the Innovation Fund grows, the state will seek contributions from philanthropic organizations, nonprofits and businesses as a continuing source of start-up capital for promising innovations.
The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity to support new approaches to improve schools. The fund was made available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:
- Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
- Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
- Recruiting, preparing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
- Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
Georgia’s reform plan focuses on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria, rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based salary increases, and more effectively using data to inform decision-making, among other things.