Proposed I3 Criteria for 2011

On Monday, January 10, the United States Department of Education (ED) published a Notice of Proposed Revisions (NPR) for the Investing in Innovation Fund (I3). ED is soliciting comments to the proposed revisions on or before February 9, 2011. Although a second round of I3 funding has yet to be approved, organizations with an interest in shaping the criteria for a second I3 round should review the regulations and offer comments on ED‰'s proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria.

The notice makes four important changes to I3 in order to provide the Secretary of Education with additional flexibility for competitions in fiscal year 2011, and in subsequent years. The notice:

  • Allows the Secretary to select among absolute and competitive preferences. Instead of having to use all of the absolute and competitive preferences, as the 2010 competition required, ED proposes that the Secretary may select among the absolute and competitive preferences for the 2011 competition and beyond. This discretion would apply to each of the three I3 grant categories : Scale-Up, Validation, and Development grants.
  • Clarifies the limit on the number of awards a grantee may receive. The 2010 competition stated that ‰"[N]o grantee may receive more than two awards under this program. In addition, no grantee may receive more that $55 million in grant awards under this program in a single year's competition.‰" The NPR proposes to clarify that "no more than two awards‰" applies only to a single year‰'s competition, not across multiple year competitions.
  • Eliminates the fixed 20 percent requirement. The 2010 competition required private sector matching funds or in-kind donations equal to at least 20 percent of the grant awards which caused applicants major headaches. In response, the NPR proposes to remove the set 20 percent figure. Instead, the applicant must obtain matching funds or in-kind donations equal to the amount that the Secretary will specify in the forthcoming notice inviting applications for the specific I3 competitions.
  • Less restrictive criteria. The 2010 competition had very specific selection criteria for each of the three grants (Scale-Up, Validation, and Development). The criteria may have been too restrictive. ED now proposes that the Secretary may use one or more of the selection criteria established in 2010, any of the selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210, criteria based on the statutory requirements for the I3 program in accordance with 34 CFR 75.209, or any combination of these when establishing selection criteria for each particular type of grant. The selection criteria and the points assigned to each criterion will be in the notice inviting applications, the application package or both.

For more information contact Comments are due to ED on or before February 9, 2011. Please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.