Runners-up in the Investing in Innovation (i3) competitive grant program may have a second chance to receive funding to support their proposed innovative solutions to some of the nation’s biggest education challenges. The $650 million i3 program is part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and, in 2010, only 49 i3 awards were granted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) out of 1,698 applications. Some applicants missed winning awards by only a few points in the competitive scoring process. In an effort to continue the momentum for education innovation, the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute is presenting, in cooperation ED, the “Education Innovation Forum and Expo: Leveraging i3 to Drive an Innovation Culture.” The January 20-21, 2011 event at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center provides a forum for education innovators to connect and partner with philanthropic and for-profit investors ready to support and implement promising education innovations. Attendance is by invitation only and, according to a January 18th online article in Education Week, Aspen invited 55 high-scoring i3 runners-up and 50 innovative projects outside of the i3 competition. Aspen’s website, www.aspeninstitute.org, specifies that one of the objectives of the Forum and Expo is to showcase i3 projects and promising ventures that ED was unable to fund. According to the website, over 500 education innovators and investors are attending the event and the approximately 30 confirmed speakers include ED Secretary Arne Duncan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation Director Stacey Childress, and News Corporation Executive Vice President Joel Klein.
Information about the i3 proposals showcased at the Forum and Expo can be found on the Aspen website. The wide range of proposals includes innovations for classrooms, teacher training and performance evaluation, school turnarounds and data management for students, teachers and schools.