Grant funding for education initiatives is crucial to improving the U.S. academic system so students can get the most out of their education, and teachers can provide the best learning environment possible. Education-related grants that provide access to technology for students and faculty are incredibly important, as these resources may not be available without the extra funding. As part of our American Education Week blog series, GovWin is offering background information on three education grants and reporting on projects taking place as a result of awarded funds.
As states and localities seek to obtain waivers from the strict laws implemented through the No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama administration has expressed interest in allowing school systems more flexibility with their Race to the Top (RTTT) grant program. The RTTT program is the Obama administration’s attempt at improving education standards while providing much-needed funding on a state-by-state level. The program is a competition designed to incentivize states to create plans and advance reform in four areas determined by the U.S. Department of Education:
- Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy
- Building data systems that measure student growth and success and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction
- Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most
- Revitalizing the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.
Two phases have been completed thus far, and a third phase is currently in progress. Approximately $600 million was split between two states (Delaware and Tennessee) in the first phase, and more than $3 billion was divided among nine states and the District of Columbia in the second phase. Race to the Top also includes the Early Learning Challenge competition, which focuses on the early development and learning of young children. Applications for the Early Learning Challenge were due in October, and awards will likely be announced by the end of the year.
Since the RTTT fund is the most recent of education grants, GovWin has been closely following several top-dollar education technology opportunities. The state of New York, which received $700 million in funding, has many opportunities in various procurement stages. Two requests for proposals (RFPs) released this year – one for Technology Products and Solutions for Raising Public School Performance, and another for a principal evaluator learning system – are currently under review to determine a vendor award. However, the state still has several pre-RFP opportunities for RTTT initiatives, including projects for Early Warning and Electronic Record Exchange systems.
The state of Delaware, a first-round RTTT winner, awarded a contract to ESP Solutions Group for its Longitudinal Data System and Education Portal project. Additionally, the state of Ohio awarded a contract to Navigator Management Partner, LLC, for Data Tools Consolidation and Web Portals Analysis. GovWin continues to track phase II of this project for implementation. These are just a few of the winning states’ education technology opportunities. Be on the lookout for many more once the Early Learning Challenge awards are announced.
The Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) grant’s purpose is to familiarize students with technology through the increased use of computers and technology in elementary and secondary schools. Additional goals include ensuring the technological literacy of students and implementing the use of technology in training and curriculum development. The program has awarded more than $2 billion to schools since its 2003 inception.
Title I grants provide funding for schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) with large numbers or percentages of students from low-income families. The funds are allocated to state educational agencies (SEAs) based on four formulas generated predominantly from census poverty estimates. The four formulas are basic grants, concentration grants, targeted grants, and education finance incentive grants. Since 2007, more than $70 billion in Title I grants have been awarded to numerous LEAs.
With the economy in such turmoil, grant funding is more important to states and schools now than ever. Grants can create a platform for schools to provide an array of opportunities for students that they may not have had otherwise. Because grant funding is so important, state and school officials should educate themselves on the eligibility requirements and application deadlines for any relevant grants. It is equally important for contractors to track grant funding, as the execution of many high-value opportunities relies solely on whether a state is awarded a grant or not. The best way for vendors to stay abreast of grant-funded education projects is to get involved in the grant process with prospective clients by assisting in the identification and winning of funds.