New Race to the Top Competition Targets Local Schools

Following three rounds of Race to the Top grants awarded to more than 20 states, the U.S. Department of Education is poised to award an additional $400 million in the next round of RTTT funding. This time, however, the money is being earmarked to local schools districts, not states.  The US DOE has announced it will award 15-25 grants to support school districts in implementing local education reforms that personalize instruction, close achievement gaps, and take advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and careers. 

To qualify, districts must have enrollments of at least 2,000 students. Smaller districts may join together to submit applications in order to meet that threshold. At least 40 percent of students in the districts must qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.  The funds will be used to support learning strategies that personalize education in all or a set of schools, within specific grade levels or select subjects. Moreover, districts must demonstrate a commitment to Race to the Top’s four core reform areas and have sign-off on their plan from the local superintendent, local school board president, and local teacher union/association president (where applicable).  The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural, as well as those participating in a Race to the Top state grant and those not participating.  The program offers competitive preference to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations to sustain their work and provide services to help meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and enhance their ability to succeed.

“Race to the Top helped bring about groundbreaking education reforms in states across the country. Building off that success, we're now going to help support reform at the local level with the new district competition,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a news release. “We want to help schools become engines of innovation through personalized learning so that every child in America can receive the world-class public education they deserve. The Race to the Top-District competition will help us meet that goal.”

The awards will range between $5 million and $40 million. Districts are asked to submit a letter of  intent to apply by August 30.  Applications are due October 30.  Grants will be announced no later than December 31. Additional information can be obtained at the U.S. DOE Website. Three previous RTTT competitions awarded grants to 21 states plus the District of Columbia.