Fund to Provide $650 Million in Stimulus Money to Innovative Education Programs

Innovative education programs around the country could soon benefit from a $650 million competitive grant fund included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Associated Press reports.

Part of the $5 billion provided by ARRA to overhaul schools, the Investing in Innovation Fund will support programs run by school districts and nonprofits, including colleges and universities, organizations that work to turn around failing schools, and charter schools. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, programs that have proven successful will be awarded up to $50 million each, while programs that need money to expand or build a research base could receive up to $30 million and promising ideas worth trying could receive up to $5 million.

Speaking to a group of school superintendents, Duncan cited Teach for America as one of many examples of successful, innovative education programs. Launched in 1990, the nonprofit recruits recent college graduates to teach in schools in poor communities for at least two years. This fall, the organization will place some 4,100 recruits in classrooms.

"Of course, Teach for America hasn't solved the problem of how we recruit the best and the brightest to be teachers," Duncan said. "I was just trying to highlight that innovation comes from different places. I was trying to set a tone that we're not going to look at the usual players, the usual suspects."

Libby Quaid. "Teach for America Eligible for Stimulus." Associated Press 08/20/2009.