Digital teaching and learning in North Carolina’s public schools will benefit from a second round of competitive grants approved Thursday by the State Board of Education.
Up to $1.83 million provided by the General Assembly will be shared by school districts and charter schools during the 2018-19 school year for planning, executing or demonstrating effective innovative models for digital learning. An initial round of grants totaling $1.38 million were awarded late last year by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to 30 districts and one charter school to better harness digital tools and resources for instruction and student learning.
Based on high demand and need shown by schools in last year’s grant competition, one target of the latest cycle expands the reach of support for planning efforts to more districts and charter schools at the beginning stage of development for digital teaching and learning. The funds are aimed at producing high-quality implementation plans for digital-age learning. Traditional school districts may apply for funding up to $50,000 and charter schools up to $15,000. Based upon available funding, DPI aims to fund up to 10 planning grants.
A second focus of the Digital Learning Initiative grant program is supporting implementation efforts. This funding would provide an opportunity for school districts or charter schools to execute robust plans already developed. This is a two-year grant that would begin with the 2018-19 school year and conclude in the 2019-20 school year. Traditional school districts may apply for funding up to $75,000 for each year (for a total of $150,000), and charter schools up to $25,000 each year (for a total of $50,000). Based upon available funding each year, DPI plans to fund up to 18 implementation grants.
Grants will also be awarded for a third purpose – to develop “innovation academies” – identifying districts as leaders for digital teaching and learning in the state and serving as hubs of innovation for professional learning. This grant type is a unique and creative opportunity for supporting the state’s movement to successful digital-age learning for students. As three-year grants the “innovation academies” would begin with the 2018-19 school year and end with the 2020-21 school year. Traditional school districts may apply for funding up to $100,000 for each year (for a total of $300,000), and charter schools may apply for funding up to $40,000 each year (for a total of $120,000). Based on funding, DPI aims to fund four grants for the development of these “innovation academies.”
The application deadline for each of these grants is April 23, 2018. Final decisions for selecting grantees may be based on DPI priorities, geographic and socioeconomic needs, available funding, and applicants’ prior performance.
The grant initiative was authorized in 2016 by the General Assembly as part of a collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University to advance the state’s Digital Learning Plan. The goal of that plan is to develop a long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.
For a list of 2017-18 DLI grantees, and for more information about Digital Learning Initiative Grants, visit www.ncpublicschools.org/