Plymouth Public Schools to Receive $5 Million Federal Innovation Grants Once Private Match Is Secured

The Plymouth Public Schools have been selected from among nearly 1,700 applicants for funding under the Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The Plymouth Public Schools will  receive a share of the $650 million in i3 grants upon securing a commitment for a 20 percent private sector match by Sept. 8. The Plymouth Public Schools are proud to announce that the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Rural and Community Trust have officially committed to contribute the 20 percent match.

"All across America, innovative entrepreneurs are finding solutions to our most pressing educational challenges," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "i3 will support creative thinkers who test good ideas and take proven approaches to scale so that more children can benefit."

The Education Department selected these 49 proposals based on recommendations from independent peer review panels. Grants fall into three categories: up to $50 million per "scale-up" grant for programs with a strong track record of success; up to $30 million per "validation" grant for growing programs with emerging evidence of success; and up to $5 million per "development" grant for promising ideas. The Plymouth Public Schools will receive nearly $5 million for its grant proposal and as a result of the 20 percent match from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and The Rural and Community Trust, and additional $1 million will be available for for this opportunity.

According to Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, "We were really struck by the number of high quality applicants and winners who were not among the usual suspects."
Superintendent Dr. Gary Maestas is relieved to win this grant competition. "We spend a great deal of time putting these grant applications together and you hold your breath until the results are posted. This year, I was truly amazed that the proposal we put together was funded. When people think of Plymouth, they think of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. We want to re-frame Plymouth as an educational innovator providing unbelievable opportunities for our students. We believe that opportunities such as the i3 competition, will allow the Plymouth Public Schools as well as other schools from throughout New England to experience a new level of success in allowing students to demonstrate learned competency."

Assistant Superintendent Christopher Campbell is very excited about what lies ahead. "The i3 grant represents a truly innovative approach to preparing and motivating students for postsecondary success. Our challenge (and the innovation) is to puzzle out how to transform learning so that it is personalized for all students in a replicable, cost-effective way. Our project builds on the promising work and proven results of the New York Performance Standards Consortium (Consortium), applying that work to new settings and with new populations. Receiving this grant will provide us with the additional resources we need to support the hard work already taking place in our high schools as we promote the integration of a student-centered learning environment at the secondary level."

The i3 fund, which is part of the historic $10 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will support local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students. The competition was open to school districts as well as nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education working in partnership with public schools. Applicants were required to demonstrate their previous success in closing achievement gaps, improving student progress toward proficiency, increasing graduation rates, or recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals.

A detailed list of the 2010 Highest-Rated i3 Applicants, along with a summary of the characteristics of the 2010 Highest-Rated Applicants can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html.

Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan met with i3 Grant recipient Plymouth Public Schools and their grant partners in Portsmouth New Hampshire on September 2. Pictured Above: New Hampshire Deputy Comissioner of Education, Mr. Paul K. Leather, Plymouth Public Schools Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Chris Campbell, U.S. Secretary Of Education, Mr. Arnie Duncan, Plymouth Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Gary Maestas and President of the Center for Secondary School Re-Design, Mr. Joe DiMartino