WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly 2,500 schools or organizations, including 83 in Michigan, have indicated they will compete for "Investing in Innovation" grant money from the U.S. Department of Education, according to Education Week.

About $650 million in so-called "i3" money will be awarded to about 100 applicants; a handful will receive up to $50 million to scale up existing innovative projects, while the remainder will receive up to $5 million to develop new programs, Education Week reported.

A spreadsheet released by the education department indicates that Michigan conventional school districts, intermediate school districts, public charter schools and several nonprofit or educational organizations all intend to apply.

Like "Race to the Top," the program is intended to spur school improvement, Education Week reported, but i3 is open to individual schools, groups of schools and affiliated nonprofit organizations, rather than states as a whole.

Applicants have said they plan to focus on improving academic standards, ways of assessing student performance and improving low-performing schools — all priorities of the Obama administration, Education Week reported. Rural schools also have indicated they will propose reforms specific to rural issues.

Final applications are due May 11, and awards will be made by September. The list of current applicants is not final, Education Week reported, since some on the list could drop out and others could join.

Education Week, "Scramble Begins for $650 Million in 'i3' Funding," April 20, 2010

U.S. Department of Education, "Investing in Innovation Fund"

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan 21st in 'Race to the Top'," March 30, 2010