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Rural Districts Can Get Assistance in i3 Grant Applications

Rural communities with school districts serving high poverty regions can receive assistance developing their applications for the U.S. Education Department's "Investing in Innovation" (i3) grant competition through a new $1.4 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the Rural School and Community Trust (Rural Trust.) In addition, the Kellogg and Walmart Foundations committed $9 million to a fund to provide capital to rural districts for the required matching funds for the Investing in Innovation grant program.

The program will address the challenges and provide customized technical assistance for rural school districts seeking i3 grants. Without targeted assistance, rural districts face increased challenges in their efforts to educate a large and growing segment of the nation's children. On site workshops and other outreach efforts will ensure that rural applicants are informed of the i3 requirements and application process. The Rural Trust will also assist rural school applicants in identifying promising innovations, completing applications, and building long-term capacity to complete competitive grant applications in the future.

"This support from the W.K. Kellogg and Walmart Foundations comes at a crucial time for rural schools and communities," said Dr. Doris Terry Williams, executive director of the Rural School and Community Trust. "Our partnership with these foundations will provide vital support to strengthen rural districts' capacity to secure funding for innovations aimed at reducing dropout rates, increasing graduation rates, and improving teacher and principal quality in high-needs schools."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2007-2008 school year 19 percent of U.S. public school students were designated as living in rural areas. This includes more than 25,000 schools and 9.2 million students, of which 41 percemt are economically disadvantaged (as measured by the free and reduced school meal rate).

We believe that every student--including those in rural communities--should have access to the finest education available," said Sterling K. Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "The funding allocated as part of the Investing in Innovation (i3) effort provides an unusual and exciting opportunity for rural students, but the application requirements at first glance could have some districts deciding not to participate. We have partnered with the Rural Trust to help remove obstacles and provide the support necessary to make the application process easier and doable. We would strongly encourage rural schools to seize the opportunity to apply for i3 funds."

To learn more about the Rural Trust's technical assistance program and how your school district can receive support, visit the Rural Trust.

The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) was established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and provides competitive grants to applicants (schools, school districts, and partnering nonprofit organizations) with a record of improving student achievement and expanding the implementation and investment of 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 enrollment and completion rates.

These grants will (1) allow eligible entities to expand and develop innovative practices that can serve as models of best practices, (2) allow eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community, and (3) identify and document best practices that can be shared and taken to scale based on demonstrated success.