Funding Alert! Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program Early Phase Grants

Department of Education – Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Attention institutions of higher education awarding Federal Pell Grant funds! The Department of Education (ED) – Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) is accepting applications for EIR program expansion tier. This program 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 while rigorously evaluating innovations. The EIR has three grant tiers: early-phase, mid-phase, and expansion, with the expectation that projects will advance through the tiers. This opportunity is specifically for the early-phase tier.

Who is eligible to apply?

Organizations eligible include local or state education agencies (LEA, SEA), or a consortium of LEA and SEAs, nonprofit organizations, businesses, education service agencies, institutions of higher education, and the bureau of Indian education (BIE). Rural applicants can include an educational service agency or nonprofit in partnership with an LEA, or a consortium meeting these requirements.

What are the program details?

The premise of the EIR program is that new and innovative educational programs and practices can help overcome persistent and significant challenges to student success, particularly for underserved and high-need students. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges and support the expansion of those solutions to serve substantially higher numbers of students.

Early-phase projects should demonstrate a rationale, provide funding for the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a program. The program should have prior research suggesting it has promise, for the purpose of determining whether the program can successfully improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Applicants must provide a 10% match of funds through cash or in-kind contributions. Additional information regarding match requirements can be found on the EIR matching resources page.

For fiscal year 2022, the early-phase grant competition includes four absolute priorities and two competitive preference priorities. The competitive preference priorities are worth an additional three points each. Applicants must address absolute priority 1 and are required to address one of the remaining three absolute priorities.

  • Absolute Priority 1 – demonstrated rationale establishing the evidence requirement showing prior evidence of effectiveness;
  • Absolute Priority 2 – field-initiated innovations allow applicants to propose projects that create and take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment;
  • Absolute Priority 3 – field initiated innovations that promote equity in student access to educational resources and opportunities that support or improve student achievement and attainment in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) education field. Applicants may choose to focus on expanding opportunities in computer science for underrepresented students (students of color, females, English learners, students with disabilities, rural communities, and students from families living below the poverty line);
  • Absolute Priority 4 – field-initiated innovations that meet student social, emotional, and academic needs by promoting high-quality social and emotional learning projects;
  • Competitive Preference Priority 1 – Projects must promote equity in educational opportunities and outcomes, with a particular emphasis on supporting underserved students; and
  • Competitive Preference Priority 2 – Projects must show commitment to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education. We know inequities of students in underserved communities have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and seek opportunities to redesign how schools approach teaching and learning in ways that address both long-standing gaps in educational opportunity and better prepare students for college and careers.

The funder expects to award between 11-20 grants with a 60-month project period. The estimated average grant award will be $15,000,000, funding one or more projects under each of the EIR competitions, including expansion, mid-phase, and early phase.

The full early-phase competition EIR federal register notice for details of required components and definition of terms. Applicants seeking to apply for the mid– or expansion phase competitions should review the federal register for full solicitation details of required components. With similar submission timelines, these opportunities seek to fund additional projects.

Proposals are due on June 21, 2022.

What makes a project a good fit?

As an EIR project is implemented, grantees are encouraged to learn more about how the practices improve student achievement and attainment and to develop increasingly rigorous evidence of effectiveness and new strategies to efficiently and cost-effectively scale to new districts, regions, and states. Applicants will need to develop a conceptual framework such as a logic model of theory of action that includes the goals, objectives, outcomes, and key project components of the project. Successful projects will consider how they need to develop their organizational capacity, project financing, or business plans to sustain the project and continue implementation after funding ends.

What if I am ready to apply? To move your project forward, take the following action steps as soon as possible:

  • Review the full program solicitation for additional details and project activities.
  • View the Department of Education’s OESE program page for examples of previously funded proposals, tips and assistance, program contacts, and other news and resources.
  • The FY2022 Competition page includes resources including an evidence checklist, an EIR 101 webinar, and pre-application webinar.
  • Make sure your System for Award Management (SAM) registration is active and be sure you have a profile. You can check your SAM stat us here:
  • Confirm your organization’s unique entity identifier (UEI). The federal government recently transitioned to a new system for applicants utilizing a UEI instead of requiring DUNS numbers. All agencies with existing SAM registration have been automatically assigned a UEI. New applicants will request a UEI as part of the SAM registration process. You can find more information about the UEI transition here.

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services (AGS) today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. If you would like to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Julie Assel, GPC, President/CEO, will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you with a quote for grant services.

What if I am not ready to apply this year?

Start preparing for next year! HHS has a variety of other programs and funding opportunities available that might be a good fit. The office’s website has ample resources, webinars, and descriptions of available or upcoming opportunities.

How do I learn more about federal grant proposal writing, so my application is more likely to be successful?

AGS is excited to offer a Federal Grants Training Series in 2022! The series is designed to support nonprofit leaders before and during the application process. AGS also offers several on demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

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