Overlooked IES provides several great funding opportunities

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is often overlooked by grantseekers despite its relatively large award sizes and broad scope. Opportunities for education research range from early childhood to postdoctoral education, and the diversity of funding categories within each opportunity offers something for just about any applicant.

Responses were due yesterday for several of the FY11 RFAs, but most of the programs accept a second round of submissions September 16th. The full list of opportunities is available here.

Notably, the Education Research Grants bear a striking resemblance to the i3 program and would be a good fit for some of the smaller i3 Development proposals or for applicants looking to conduct a rigorous (and funded!) evaluation of current programs prior to applying for Validation or Scale-up award under a future i3 opportunity. Awards range from $200,000 over two years to almost $5 million over four years.

The best thing about IES funding: fewer applicants means less competition, and less competition means better odds of funding for solid proposals.

NSF Rapid Response Grants available for oil spill research

The National Science Foundation issued a dear colleague letter last week encouraging researchers to use the agency’s Rapid Response Grants mechanism to request funding for studies of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its effects.

If you’re wondering just how rapid the Rapid Response grants are, take note: the agency announced a Rapid Response award to UC Santa Barbara just 31 days after the start of the spill to study the effects of dispersants on microbial degradation of oil.

Whew! i3 is over…now what?

The last week has been a real bear finishing up the i3, but it’s over, and the submission receipt is in hand.

The Department of Education granted an extension for folks affected by the flooding in Tennessee–they have till May 19th to get everything done. Except for the folks who truly were affected by the floods, I’m not sure this type of mercy is kind. I know I couldn’t have survived another week.

In other i3 news, the Department is still looking for peer reviewers. Even though the site still says the deadline for applying was April 1st, I queried yesterday and confirmed they’re still desperately seeking help. If you want to apply, do so here.

Now the waiting game begins, but the wait won’t be long. After all, the funds must be committed by September 30th. That’s only 20 weeks away. But the notification date for most folks will come at least 4-6 weeks earlier when groups receive news they’ve scored high and need to confirm (or find and confirm) the 20% match. If some groups can’t get the match, the next groups on the list will possibly get the green light, but they’ll have even less time to meet the match requirement.

So some groups will probably hear somewhere between August 1st and 15th. That’s just 2 1/2 months away…

By the way, next time around I hope they put a page limit on the budget narrative…

i3 gets $500 million boost from private foundations

The Department of Education announced today that 12 private foundations are contributing $500 million to supplement the $650 million in the Investing in Innovation award program. This brings the total amount available to $1.15 billion–or about half the amount needed to fund awards at the levels the Department has projected.

Although the details are sketchy (i.e., almost none are provided), it appears that about $233 million will be used to support proposals under Absolute Priorities 1-3, and about $178 million will be used to support Absolute Priority 4. Another $95 million will be devoted to sustainability–specifically research and evaluation of the i3 programs and building support for successful programs after the award period. It’s not clear whether these funds will be used to offset the evaluation expenses on proposals or develop stand-alone evaluation and promotion activities with Departmental oversight.

Interestingly, part of the $178 million for low-performing schools is allocated specifically to provide “support for high-quality school choices including charters and alternative school designs.” I must say that I didn’t see that coming (though in hindsight I should have), but it does provide very important insight into what the Department is hoping to see from Applicants under Absolute Priority 4–I’m glad I’m writing under a different priority!

Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement was the unveiling of the Foundation Registry, a site where i3 applicants can post their proposals and foundations will review the proposals to identify programs they want to support. It’s being touted as a way to simplify obtaining the match. It’ll be interesting to see 1) how many applicants post their proposals (assuming that information is released), 2) whether foundations wait to see who is funded before contacting applicants, and 3) whether foundations opt to partially or fully fund any projects that don’t receive an i3 award.

These 12 foundations (no surprises) provided the $500 million boost to the i3 and are participating in the Foundation Registry:


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