Tag: i3

Changes to the NSF MSP program

NSF published a revised program solicitation for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program last week with the following program changes:

  • The program now has a separate due date for Targeted Partnerships (October 14 this year). The Institute Partnerships, MSP-Start Partnerships, Phase II Partnerships, and RETA Projects are now due in July.
  • The program no longer requires that the PI on partnership proposals be a mathematician, scientist, or engineer and a college or university faculty member. In place of this requirement the solicitation now includes an additional review criterion designed to encourage involvement of math, science, or engineering faculty.
  • The definition of nonprofit organization has been tweaked under the eligibility requirements. Nonprofit organizations eligible to serve as lead on a partnership must be a “nonprofit research institute or a nonprofit professional association with demonstrated experience and effectiveness” in math or science education.
  • The maximum award for Targeted Partnership proposals has been reduced to $10 million.
  • The Research, Evaluation, and Technical Assistance (RETA) program now encourages submissions in any of the three elements rather than requiring all three.

Due to the late release of the program revisions, MSP proposals are not eligible under the Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) program this year. Presumably they will be eligible next year if the new solicitation is posted in time.

The total funding for the program has increased by $7 million to $42 million, and NSF anticipates making 27 awards. Last year the program reserved $5.5 million for I3 projects, so the late announcement may work to the benefit of those institutions that aren’t in a position to apply under I3.

Funding for i3 in 2011?

Potentially good news for as many as 94% of potential 2010 i3 applicants (and for all those groups who decided not to put together a $30 million program in a period of a couple of months): the president’s 2011 budget request includes $500 million for the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation program. If approved by Congress, that line item will fund another round of potentially massive i3 projects.

At the Denver i3 pre-application workshop, Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement, Jim Shelton, stated very clearly that all funds for i3 will be disbursed prior to September 30, 2010. Shelton’s statement was in response to a question about how the funding would be allocated over the three to five years of the proposed projects.

As noted in a previous post, the Department stands by its intention to award up to 5 scale-up grants, up to 100 scale-up grants, and up to 100 development grants even though funding that many awards at the anticipated average award level (not the max) would require $2.25 billion–far exceeding the $643.5 million allocated for the program in 2010.

It’s possible that in developing the final announcement, the Department made a decision to allow for more awards than current funding could support, knowing that the 2011 request was in the pipeline. Thus, if the 2011 budget request is approved, they could make enough awards to disburse the current allocation for Year 1 spending and then use future budget allocations for future years.

This approach is risky given the uncertain budget climate, but it does follow the Department’s usual pattern of allocating major program awards on a 3-5 year cycle (e.g., TRIO awards). But unlike those other major programs, the i3 announcement doesn’t include any language about funding in subsequent years being contingent on suitable progress.

If they do decide to fund subsequent years through new budget allocations rather than giving a single lump-sum award as promised to date, that’s bad news for anyone hoping to apply for an i3 next year. My guess is that not even Jim Shelton knows which approach they plan to take, and the decision won’t be made till they know something for sure on the budget.

Tomorrow the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to testify on the full Education budget request before the Senate Labor/HHS/Education/etc. Appropriations Subcommittee. One of my senators is on the subcommitte…perhaps he’d ask the Secretary to elaborate on the i3 plans? Yeah, probably not.

Dept. of Ed posts LOI stats for i3

The Department of Education has posted statistics on letters of intent received for its Investing in Innovation (i3) program.

Although LOIs aren’t required for the program, officials strongly encouraged potential applicants to submit letters to aid the department in planning for the mad rush of submissions and subsequent review.

The Department says it received 2445 LOIs with 1666 stating intent to apply for Development awards, 527 for Validation, and 87 for Scale-up. The stats also include LOIs by state and program, as well as information on which absolute priorities and competitive preference priorities applicants intend to pursue.

Although the numbers are sure to change, based on this report, applicants can expect the following funding rates:

Development: <6%
Validation: <19%*
Scale-up: <6%

*The Department of Education states its intention to award up to 100 Validation grants at an average amount of $17.5 million. However, this would require $1.75 billion, or about three times the funding available for the program. Based on the anticipated number and average size of awards for the other programs, the number of Validation awards should be 10–though the Department has stated in its pre-application workshops that 100 is the correct number. If the number is, in fact, 10, funding rates for Validation awards will be <2%.

Edit: updated the link to the summary following a change by the Department of Education.

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