Georgia Announces 18 Innovation Fund Winners


Georgia governor Nathan Deal has announced 18 winners of the state’s Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program which supplies more $4.5 million for schools, local education authorities, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to aid in the advancement of student achievement within the state.

The fund began as part of Georgia’s Race to the Top plan.  In that time, the $19.4 million fund gave 23 grants to programs that had a focus on offering applied learning opportunities, creating teacher and leader induction programs, introducing more teachers and leaders, or developing or expanding on charter schools.  Most winners still receive grant funds and will continue to do so through June 30, 2015.  The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement continues to monitor their progress and offering help where they see fit.

As a continuation of the program, the governor placed an additional $5 million in state funding for the 2015 fiscal year.  Through the help of that funding, 18 grants were awarded to organizations that showed a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education, the development of blended school models, or teacher and leader induction and development.

“These deserving organizations are among Georgia’s most dedicated to advancing academic achievement throughout the state,” said Deal. “I am confident these funds will give our schools and groups devoted to education the opportunity to focus on applied learning techniques and STEM development. Together, we can help every Georgia student experience an innovative and enriching educational environment.”

The 18 winners will use the grants to help in planning, implementing or scaling innovative education programs throughout the state.  Each planning grant winner will receive $10,000 over one year, implementation grants will offer $1 million over two years to each winner, and scaling grants will give winners $200,000 over two years.

The Clark County School District was the winner of a planning grant, which they plan to use toward its Inquiring Minds STE(A)M program aimed at integrating the arts into STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education.  The Jackson County school district received a planning grant for its INSPIRE (Innovative, Student-centered, Personalized Instruction That is Rigorous and Engaging) program, and the Winterville-based Oconee River Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center won a planning grant for its STEM Network Resources for Georgia.

Pauling County’s alternative high school also received a planning grant for New Hope Education Center.  The school system said it is using the grant to plan a blended learning program, “targeting students who are either unsuccessful or unsatisfied with the traditional high school environment.”

The state uses funds from philanthropic organizations, nonprofits and businesses in addition to state funding for start-up capital for promising innovations.