WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two education reform groups that stand to receive a combined $48 million in federal "i3" innovation grants intend to spend part of their money in Michigan, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The department on Thursday named 49 school districts, universities and institutions as potential "i3" competitive grant winners. Final awards depend on whether those selected can secure a required 20 percent matching grant from the private sector, the press release said.

Johns Hopkins University reported that it already has secured matching funds for its $30 million award, and that it will use part of the money to bring its "Diplomas Now" program to selected Detroit Public Schools high schools and their feeder middle schools. The university's grant application states that the goal of Diplomas Now is a graduation rate of 80 percent and a 30 percent reduction in the number of middle-schoolers who arrive at high school behind grade level.

WestEd, based in California, plans to use its $18 million award to implement the "Reading Apprentice-ship" program in 300 schools in four states, including Michigan, its application said.

The program focuses on professional development for teachers in English, biology and history as a means to improve student literacy. The application names the Livingston and Washtenaw intermediate school districts as partners, as well as Lincoln Consolidated, Willow Run and the Ypsilanti school districts.

Like the more familiar "Race to the Top" program, the i3 grants are intended to spur education reform.

SOURCE:
U.S. Department of Education, "Nation's Boldest Education Reform Plans to Receive Federal Innovation Grants Once Private Match is Secured," Aug. 5, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Underfunded Myth," June 2, 2010

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