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 FY21 Early-phase competition includes four absolute priorities and three competitive priorities. All Early-phase applicants must address Absolute Priority 1. Early-phase applicants are also required to address one of the other three absolute priorities. Applicants addressing Absolute Priority 3 also have the option to address Competitive Preference Priority 1. Applicants have the option of addressing Competitive Preference Priority 2 and Competitive Preference Priority 3 and may opt to do so regardless of the absolute priority they select. Applicants may choose to address multiple competitive preference priorities. 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—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 (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.
    • Absolute Priority 4 - Field-Initiated Innovations - Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students To Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens. Under this priority, an applicant must propose 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; and
      • Improve student academic performance and better prepare students for employment, responsible citizenship, and fulfilling lives, including by preparing children or students to do one or more of the following:
        • Develop positive personal relationships with others.
        • Develop determination, perseverance, and the ability to overcome obstacles.
        • Develop self-esteem through perseverance and earned success.
        • Develop problem-solving skills.
        • Develop self-regulation in order to work toward long-term goals.

    Competitive Preference Priority 1: 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. 

    Competitive Preference Priority 2: Innovative Approaches to Addressing the Impact of COVID–19 on Underserved Students and Educators (up to 5 points). Projects designed to address the needs of underserved students and educators most impacted by COVID–19 through—

    • Engaging in two-way, mutually respectful collaboration with key stakeholders, such as families, caretakers, students, educators (including teachers, school leaders and other school staff), and community leaders (including individuals from diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds), to assess and understand students' social, emotional, physical and mental health, and academic needs, in light of historical educational inequities and the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic; and
    • Developing and implementing strategies to address those needs.

    Competitive Preference Priority 3Promoting Equity and Adequacy in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities (up to 5 points). Projects designed to promote equity in access to critical resources for underserved students in prekindergarten through grade 12 through one or more of the following:

    • Addressing inequities in access to fully certified, experienced, and effective teachers.
    • Addressing inequities in access to and success in rigorous, engaging, and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and learning environments that prepare students for college and career
    • Addressing bias (e.g., implicit and explicit) and creating inclusive, supportive learning environments.
    • Involving diverse stakeholders to include students, families, caretakers, educators (including teachers, school leaders, and other staff), and community decisions.
    • Identifying and addressing, in collaboration with students, families, and educators, policies that result in the disproportionate use of exclusionary discipline through data collection and analysis (including school climate surveys) disaggregated by race, sex, English learner, disability status, gender-identity, and sexual orientation, in compliance with 20 U.S.C. 1232h and 34 CFR part 98, and other important variables.
    • Identifying and addressing issues of equity in access to and the use of innovative tools, rigorous content, and effective teaching and learning practices, including by providing job embedded professional development to educators on strategies for equitably integrating educational technology in ways that elevate student engagement beyond passive use and over-reliance on drill-and-practice to a more robust, creative, and playful medium.
    • Addressing policies, practices, and procedures that contribute to significant disproportionality in special education or programs for English learners based on race or ethnicity.
    • Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-secure placements) or supporting re-entry after release, by linking youth to education or job training programs.

    Within Absolute Priority 3, we give competitive preference to applications that address Competitive Preference Priority 1. Within Absolute Priorities 2, 3, and 4, we give competitive preference to applications that address Competitive Preference Priorities 2 or 3.


    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 17, 2021. The initial deadline for full applications was August 27, 2021. Due to weather emergency, the deadline has been extended for affected applications to September 13, 2021.

    Note this program typically occurs in the late spring/early summer each year, and the application period lasts approximately 45 days.

    Award Details

    Up to $180,000,000 is anticipated to be available in total funding for Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion grants in FY21. The Department intends to fund one or more projects under each of the EIR competitions. Between 12 and 23 grants will be awarded. Maximum award is $4,000,000.

    In addition, for the FY 2021 Earlyphase competition, the Department intends to award an estimated $35 million in funds for STEM projects and $35 million in funds for SEL 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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