Education Innovation and Research Program (EIR): Early-phase Grants

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    USED OESE Innovation & Early Learning Programs Office


    The Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program, established under section 4611 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students.

    The central design element of the EIR program is its multi-tier structure that links the amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project, with the expectation that projects that build this evidence will advance through EIR's grant tiers. Applicants proposing innovative practices that are supported by limited evidence can receive relatively small grants to support the development, iteration, and initial evaluation of the practices; applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as large randomized controlled trials, can receive larger grant awards to support expansion across the country.

    This structure provides incentives for applicants to: (1) Explore new ways of addressing persistent challenges that other educators can build on and learn from; (2) build evidence of effectiveness of their practices; and (3) replicate and scale successful practices in new schools, districts, and states while addressing the barriers to scale, such as cost structures and implementation fidelity.

    For FY 2023, the Department will award three types of grants: ‘‘Early-phase'," ‘‘Mid-phase,'' and ‘‘Expansion'' grants. grants. These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of effectiveness required for consideration for funding, the expectations regarding the kind of evidence and information funded projects should produce, the level of scale funded projects should reach, and, consequently, the amount of funding available to support each type of project. 

    EIR Early-phase grants provide funding to support the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a program, which prior research suggests has promise, for the purpose of determining whether the program can successfully improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Early-phase grants must demonstrate a rationale. These Early-phase grants are not intended simply to implement established practices in additional locations or address needs that are unique to one particular context. The goal is to determine whether and in what ways relatively newer practices can improve student achievement and attainment for high–need students. Early-phase grants only.

    Early-phase EIR grantees are expected to continuously make improvements in project design and implementation before conducting a full-scale evaluation of effectiveness. Grantees should consider questions such as:

    • How easy would it be for others to implement this practice, and how can its implementation be improved?
    • How can I use data from early indicators to gauge impact, and what changes in implementation and student achievement do these early indicators suggest?

    By focusing on continuous improvement and iterative development, Early-stage grantees can make adaptations that are necessary to increase their practice's potential to be effective and ensure that its EIR-funded evaluation assesses the impact of a thoroughly conceived practice.


    History of Funding

    Up to $273,000,000 was available in total funding for Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion grants in FY23.Previous awardee information is available at

    Additional Information

    The FY23 Early-phase competition includes five absolute priorities and two competitive priorities. All Early-phase applicants must address Absolute Priority 1. Early-phase applicants are also required to address one of the other four absolute priorities. All applicants have the option of addressing the competitive priorities and may opt to do so regardless of the absolute priority they select.

    Absolute Priority 1 - Demonstrates a Rationale.

    • Under this priority, projects must demonstrate a rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that any proposed activity, strategy, or intervention is likely to improve student outcomes or other relevant outcomes. All Early-phase applicants must submit prior evidence of effectiveness for the proposed project aims.

    Absolute Priority 2 - Field-Initiated Innovations—General.

    • Projects that are designed to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students.

    Absolute Priority 3 - Field-Initiated Innovations- Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities: STEM.

    • Projects under this priority are intended to support innovations to improve student achievement and attainment in the STEM education field, consistent with efforts to ensure the Nation's economic competitiveness by improving and expanding STEM learning and engagement. Within this absolute priority, applicants may focus on expanding opportunities in STEM education, including computer science, for underrepresented students in STEM education, including students of color, girls, English learners, students with disabilities, youth from rural communities, and youth from families living at or below the poverty line, to help reduce the enrollment and achievement gaps in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in Federal civil rights laws.

    Absolute Priority 4 - Field-Initiated Innovations- Meeting Student Social, Emotional, and Academic Needs.

    • The disruption caused by the pandemic, along with the growth in youth mental health distress, continue to impact student well-being. It is critical to provide support for students' social and emotional needs, not only to benefit student well-being, but also to support their academic success as student social, emotional, and academic development are interconnected.

    Absolute Priority 5 - Field-Initiated Innovations- Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities: Educator Recruitment and Retention.

    • Projects under this priority are intended to elevate and strengthen the educator workforce in ways that prioritize innovation in recruiting and retaining educators in supporting high-need students. Applicants are encouraged to address fundamental challenges schools face in recruiting and retaining qualified educators, including by addressing the additional responsibilities, burdens, and challenges educators have faced throughout the pandemic and may persist beyond it. For example, projects may address improving supports for educators that enhance the ability of schools to recruit and retain staff ( e.g., strategies to support educator wellbeing or structuring staffing and schedules to ensure educators and students are appropriately supported) and increasing access to leadership opportunities that can lead to increased pay and improved retention for fully certified, experienced, and effective educators, while expanding the impact of great teachers within and beyond their classrooms. Projects may support the recruitment and retention of all school staff or specific staff with acute recruitment and retention challenges ( e.g., personnel serving students with disabilities).

    Competitive Preference Priority 1: Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities: Implementers and Partners (up to 5 points).

    • Under this priority, an applicant must demonstrate how the project will be implemented by or in partnership with one or more of the following entities:
      • Community colleges
      • Historically Black colleges and universities
      • Tribal Colleges and Universities
      • Minority-serving institutions

    Competitive Preference Priority 2 —Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Students, Educators, and Faculty: Community Asset-Mapping and Needs Assessment and Evidence-Based Instructional Approaches and Supports

    • Under this priority, projects should develop and evaluate evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to address challenges and inequities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed innovations should be designed to better enable students to access the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and reach their full potential.


    Ashley Brizzo

    Ashley Brizzo
    400 Maryland Ave SW, Room 3E325
    Washington, DC 20202–5900
    (202) 2589205

    Yvonne Crockett

    Yvonne Crockett
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Ave, SW
    Washington, DC 20202
    (202) 453–7122
    (202) 987-1753

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants are as follows:

    • Local Education Agencies (including a public charter school that operates as an LEA);
    • State educational agencies (SEA);
    • The Bureau of Indian Education;
    • A consortium of SEAs or LEAs;
    • A nonprofit organization; and
    • An LEA, an SEA, the BIE, or a consortium described in clause (d), in partnership with a nonprofit organization; a business; an educational service agency; or an institution of higher education.

    To qualify as a rural applicant under the EIR program, an applicant must meet both of the following requirements:

    • The applicant is:
      • An LEA with an urban-centric district locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, as determined by the Secretary;
      • A consortium of such LEAs as described above;
      • An educational service agency or a nonprofit organization in partnership with an LEA such as described above; or
      • A grantee described as above (LEA or consortia of LEAs) in partnership with a State educational agency
    • A majority of the schools to be served by the program are designated with a locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, or a combination of such codes, as determined by the Secretary. 

    Deadline Details

    Optional Letters of Intent were to be submitted by June 6, 2024. The deadline for full applications is July 22, 2024. Note this program typically occurs in the late spring/early summer each year, and the application period lasts approximately 45 days. Applicants should expect to receive notice about their award in December 2024.

    Award Details

    Up to $251,000,000 is anticipated to be available in total funding for Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion grants in FY24. The Department intends to fund one or more projects under each of the EIR competitions. Between 13 and 23 grants will be awarded. Maximum award is $6,000,000 for a project period of 60 months. Under these three competitions (Early, Mid, and Expansion) the maximum new award amount a grantee may receive, taken-together, is $16,000,000. If an entity is within funding range for multiple applications, the Department will award the highest scoring applications up to this amount. In addition, from the estimated funds for this competition, the Department intends to award an estimated $87 million in funds for STEM projects and $87 million in funds for social and emotional learning projects, contingent on receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality.

    Project periods may last 60 months, or 5 years.

    Note: Under section 4611(c) of the ESEA, the Department must use at least 25% of EIR funds for a fiscal year to make awards to applicants serving rural areas.

    A 10% cost match is required; funds may be cash or in-kind and come from federal, state, local, or private sources.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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