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: