Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)

Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)
Case Study

“Creating a real innovation pipeline, that starts off with lots of ideas, figures out whether they are actually impactful and then provides resources for them to go to the next level.”

Jim Shelton, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

  • Impact Measurem- ent
  • Partnersh- ips
Location in government

National government

Where it is based

Washington D.C., USA

Mission statement

“To provide competitive grants to expand innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrolment and completion rates.”

Annual spend

£82 million (2013)1

Size of team

10

Example of impact

During 2013, i3 ran its fourth funding competition, selecting 25 programmes to receive more than £82 million ($135 million)2 to expand innovative practice.

The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) is a competitive grants programme to improve student achievement and attainment through investing in proven interventions. Funding is awarded based on the strength of grantees’ evidence on education outcomes, with evidence assessed against a rigorous three tier framework.

What it does

The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) is a competitive grant programme in the US Department of Education to improve student achievement and attainment. Funding is based on the strength of grantees’ evidence, with evidence assessed against a rigorous three tier framework.

The three types of grant are:

  1. Development -up to £1.8m ($3m): these require promising evidence or a strong theory, and will be scaled according to the application.
  2. Validation - up to £7.3m ($12m): these require moderate evidence. They are also expected to be scaled to a national or regional level.
  3. Scale-up- up to £12.2m ($20m): these require strong evidence of effectiveness. They are expected to be scaled to a national level.

An i3 Validation grant was awarded to the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA). VISTA is a student-centred programme to improve science education. The grant provides coaching and research-based teaching coursework for secondary school science teachers, with the objective of building the infrastructure to support intensive science teacher professional development across the state of Virginia.

Another i3 grantee is the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) which seeks to improve college readiness through preparing teachers; waiving student exam fees; upgrading classroom equipment; and holding additional Saturday study sessions for students. During the 2012-13 school year, the 13 schools supported by NMSI’s grant partner, the Colorado Legacy Foundation saw a 70 per cent increase in Advanced Placement scores, increasing college readiness.3

The main aim is to expand the implementation of innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on student achievement, achievement gaps, drop-out rates, high school graduation rates, or college enrolment and completion.

Grantees have their programme impact assessed through an independent evaluation. The methods are determined by the level of application, and include assessing progress against a logic model or theory of change, experimental methods, such as randomised controlled trials (RCTs), as well as the use of administrative data.

Interesting features
  • Impact measurement: a key feature of the i3 is its standards of evidence framework, which enables the fund to support projects with strong evidence, as well as those with less evidence but strong potential.
  • Partnerships: the requirement for matched funding was introduced partly to leverage taxpayers’ dollars with philanthropy and other sources of capital, but also in recognition that securing co-investment builds cross-sector relationships that support the work and help assure that the innovation is worth backing.

Footnotes

  1. Provided in email correspondence to Nesta, May 2014; conversion: (US)0.607408 to £1, as exchange rate on 21/01/2013, taken from: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/full/
  2. Exchange rate on 21/01/2013, taken from: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/full/   
  3. Colorado Legacy Foundation (2013) ’Program to close achievement gap celebrates record gains’. Available online: http://colegacy.org/2013/11/program-to-close-achievement-gap-celebrates-.... [Last accessed 15 April 2014]

Photo Credit: High school students develop their math and science skills as part of an i3 backed programme. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Education 

This page was last updated on

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 10:03