The latest version of President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative allowed specific school districts to apply for nearly $400 million in grants, rather that just at the state level. Race to the Top-District awarded grants ranging from $10 million to $40 million to 16 applicants, which represent 55 districts in 11 states. According to the AP, three charter schools won grants and more than 300 applications were rejected. Districts could team up and apply together.
Winners were from all areas—suburban, urban, rural—and included Green River Regional Educational Cooperative in Kentucky, Carson City School District in Nevada, School Board of Miami-Dade County in Florida, and the Puget Sound Educational Service District in Washington.
“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a statement about the winners. “The Race to the Top-District grantees have shown tremendous leadership though developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education.”
The announcement of Race to the Top-District winners comes as two international studies found that US students still lag behind students from around the world, particularly those from Asian countries. Additionally, the NAACP also released a study highlighting how pre-K prep, effective teaching, “targeted spending,” and additional learning time will help improve education overall in the US.
Hopefully these grants will help, as the winnings schools have said they will use the funds to introduce technology for a more personalized learning experience, expand partnerships with community organizations, and create courses designed to go deeper with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), among other projects.