Grant Details

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.

    In prior years, the Department has awarded three types of grants under this program: ‘‘Early-phase'' grants, ‘‘Midphase'' grants, and ‘‘Expansion'' grants. For FY 2020, the Department will award two types of grants: ‘‘Early-phase'' grants and ‘‘Mid-phase'' 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

    Previous awardee information is available at

    The EIR program replaced the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program funded under NCLB. For previous i3 awardee information see:

    Additional Information

    The FY20 Early-phase competition includes three absolute priorities and two competitive priorities. All Early-phase applicants must address Absolute Priority 1. Applicants must also address one of the other two absolute priorities in addition to Absolute Priority 1. Applicants addressing Absolute Priority 2 also have the option to address Competitive Preference Priority 1. Applicants addressing Absolute Priority 3 have the option to address Competitive Preference Priority 2. While a response to either of the competitive priorities is not required, it is strongly encouraged.

    • 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 (STEM with a particular focus on computer science). Under this priority, projects must be 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, and;
      • Improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in one or more of the following areas: science, technology, engineering, math, or computer science.
        • Competitive Preference Priority 1: Within Absolute Priority 2, ED will give competitive preference (up to 5 points) to applications that address the following priority - Computer Science. Projects designed to improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in computer science. These projects must address the following priority area: Expanding access to and participation in rigorous computer science coursework for traditionally underrepresented students such as racial or ethnic minorities, women, students in communities served by rural local educational agencies, children or students with disabilities, or low-income individuals. 
    • Absolute Priority 3 - Teacher-Directed Professional Learning. Under this priority, an applicant must propose a project in which:
      • classroom teachers receive stipends to select professional learning alternatives that are instructionally relevant and meet their individual needs related to instructional practices for high-need students.
      • teachers receiving stipends must be allowed the flexibility to replace a significant portion (no less than 20 percent) of existing mandatory professional development with such teacher-directed learning, which must also be allowed to fully count toward any mandatory teacher professional development goals (e.g., professional development hours required as part of certification renewal, designated professional days mandated by districts).
        • Competitive Preference Priority 2: Within Absolute Priority 3, ED will give competitive preference (up to 5 points) to applications that address the following priority - State Education Agency Partnership.  An applicant must demonstrate that it has established a partnership between an eligible entity and an SEA (with either member of the partnership serving as the lead applicant) to support the proposed project. 


    Ashley Brizzo

    Ashley Brizzo
    400 Maryland Ave SW, Room 3E325
    Washington, DC 20202–5900
    (202) 453-7122

  • 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 August 18, 2020. Full applications were to be submitted by September 10, 2020.

    Note this program typically occurs in the late winter/early spring each year, and the application period lasts approximately 45 days. The FY20 competition window was delayed because of the global coronavirus pandemic. It is expected that the application window will return to February through June cycle in future years.

    Award Details

    Up to $178,600,000 is available in total funding for early-phase and mid-phase grants in FY20. The number and size of awards for Early-phase grants will vary depending on if applying under Absolute Priority 2 or 3.

    • Absolute Priority 2 (STEM) - Awards will range from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. Five to nine awards are anticipated.
    • Absolute Priority 3 (Teacher PD) - Awards will range from $8,000,000 to $12,000,000, but the average award will be $10,000,000. Six to eight awards are anticipated.

    In addition, for FY20 Early-phase competition, the Department intends to award an estimated $34 million of the available EIR funding towards applicants proposing STEM projects, contingent on receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality

    Project periods may last 5 years, but initial Early-phase awards are made for a 3 year period. Applicants must still propose a budget that covers the entire project period of up to 5 years. 

    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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