Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2016

Innovation Schools Planning Grant
Fund Code: 156

Innovation schools are in-district public schools that operate with increased autonomy and flexibilities in six key areas: 1) curriculum, instruction, and assessment; 2) schedule and calendar; 3) staffing; 4) professional development; 5) district policies and procedures; and 6) budget. The innovation school model strives to be cost neutral and is rooted in the belief that autonomy and flexibility in one or more of the six identified areas will establish the school conditions that lead to improved teaching and learning.

Purpose: The purpose of this one-time state-funded innovation schools planning grant is to support high-impact, in-depth school planning processes for new and/or conversion innovation schools or academies, and former turnaround schools operating under exit assurances seeking to retain autonomies through the innovation schools redesign model.

While not required, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) strongly encourages applicants to identify 1) a dedicated staff member who will be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the innovation schools planning process and/or 2) an external partner with demonstrated expertise related to the educational model and/or area to be implemented.

The Department expects that grants will facilitate innovation schools approval processes that will culminate with an approved Innovation Plan by June 30, 2016.
Priorities: Priority for this competitive grant will be given to applicants that:
  1. Propose schools in Level 3, Level 4, or Level 5 districts.
  2. Propose to convert an existing Level 3 school or a school that has exited from Level 4.

  3. Additional priority will also be given to applicants that propose a school that is fundamentally designed to implement an educational model that focuses on at least one of the key design areas:
    1. Blended and/or Personalized Learning
    2. Emphasis on English Language Learners or Design an Inclusion Model for Students with Disabilities
    3. Wraparound Zones
    4. Redesigning Teacher and Student Time
Note that only one of the four areas need to be addressed to receive additional points under Priority C. Please see below for details, examples, and resources related to each key design area. The resources noted below do not signify endorsement by the Department and are solely intended to provide applicant's with potential sources of additional information.

Blended and/or Personalized Learning Model: Blended learning is a formal educational program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning. Characteristics of blended learning include students having some element of control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. Furthermore, the online and face-to-face components are woven together to provide students with an integrated learning experience; in other words, the online component is not an add-on to what students otherwise would do in a brick-and-mortar setting. Personalized learning models are various educational models designed to meet the unique learning needs of individual students. Examples of models include, but are not limited to, redesigning the way in which students are grouped; redesigning educational programs; redesigning learning experiences; and redesigning instructional approaches.

Example: An applicant seeking to meet this priority may propose to develop a competency-based program that provides students with the opportunity to master content-related skills at their own pace and in a learning environment that best meets their learning needs. Each student would have a personalized learning plan that takes into account identified academic strengths and weaknesses, academic and career related goals, and a personalized plan for meeting the stated goals.

Resources: Additional resources may be found at the Department's Office of Digital Learning website.

Emphasis on English Language Learners or Students with Disabilities: Applicants proposing this area must clearly describe how the educational model is specifically designed to support the academic achievement of English language learners or students with disabilities. Descriptions must include the targeted needs that will be addressed and how the specific program is expected to meet those needs.

Example A: An applicant seeking to meet this priority may propose to partner with a reputable community organization to assist newly arrived immigrant students to transition to their new community. The program would be designed to address the unique needs of immigrant students with respect to understanding the cultural norms of their new country and addressing the social and emotional needs that may prove to be barriers to their academic success. The partnership would be designed to support newly arrived immigrant students who would enroll in the innovation school or innovation academy.

Example B: Alternately, an applicant seeking to meet this priority may propose to design and implement a full inclusion model for students with disabilities, such as the program model implemented at the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School.The inclusion model would be designed to address the unique academic needs of these students in a general education setting and may incorporate a range of teaching strategies such as co-teaching, differentiated instruction, and peer mediated instruction and/or interventions.

Resources: Additional resources may be found at the Department's Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA), Benchmark Education website, and the Department's Office of Special Education website.

Wraparound Zones: Applicants proposing this model must clearly articulate how wraparound zones will be thoughtfully designed and implemented. Wraparound zones are intended to systematically address the non-academic needs of students and their families that pose barriers to students' academic success and to improve school climate by emphasizing the importance of social-emotional health and physical well-being.

Example: An applicant seeking to meet this priority may propose to establish an innovation school or academy designed to meet the needs of students with significant emotional needs. Through a service delivery model that incorporates strategic community partnerships, a unique network of supports for students (and at times their families) would be created. The supports identified may include partnerships with mental, medical, and/or dental health community-based organizations. Additionally, the applicant would identify the professional development necessary to build the capacity of internal staff members in order to successfully develop and implement comprehensive wraparound service plans.

Resources: Additional resources may be found at the Mass Wraparound Zones website.

Redesigning Teacher and Student Time: Applicants proposing this model must clearly articulate a plan for an innovation school or academy with redesigned student and teacher schedules that 1) affordably maximize the reach of school-based teacher talent through some combination of: school-based professional learning; teacher leadership opportunities; vertical and horizontal collaboration; and/or redesigned teaming and teaching models for teachers and 2) affordably reinforce and expand learning opportunities for students through some combination of intervention and acceleration blocks, project-based learning, longer blocks for core academics, and/or integrated enrichment for students. Expanding the school day and/or year is not required to meet this priority, but encouraged. Applicants are expected to identify modifications to collective bargaining agreements as well as to include a cost analysis to ensure feasibility of implementing the model.

Example A: An applicant seeking to meet this priority area may propose to arrange music, art, and physical education at the same time for all like-grade classrooms to allow teachers to meet in grade-level teams for collaboration and planning. The school may also use breakfast-in-the classroom staffed by paraprofessionals and a reduced number of teachers, to allow an instructional leadership team of teachers, coaches and administrators to work on schoolwide issues. The schedule may build in a WIN ("What I Need") block at the end or beginning of the day where students would work digitally using intervention software such as Lexia or Symphony Math to reinforce or expand particular skills, supervised by skilled paraprofessionals, allowing teachers time for preparation, collaboration, or professional development. New resources: additional software and hardware for WIN block; no new instructional staff (coverage met through reorganization). Contract modifications: include additional PD hours (school-based); increase allowable class size ratios for the WIN block; and reduce required number of prep periods by one per week in exchange for three grade-level collaboration periods.

Example B: Alternately, an applicant seeking to meet this priority area may propose to establish an innovation school or academy that implements a year round school schedule. The applicant would identify the sustainable use of existing district resources and the contract modifications necessary to successfully develop and implement this model.

Resources: Additional resources may be found at the National Center on Time and Learning website, the Joyce Foundation website; and Public Impact's website.
Eligibility: In order to apply for an planning grant, an applicant must:
  1. Be an eligible applicant as defined by the innovation schools statute, G.L., c. 71, § 92: (i) parents; (ii) teachers; (iii) parent-teacher organizations; (iv) principals; (v) superintendents; (vi) school committees; (vii) teacher unions; (viii) colleges and universities; (ix) non-profit community-based organizations; (x) non-profit business or corporate entities; (xi) non-profit charter school operators; (xii) non-profit education management organizations; (xiii) educational collaboratives; (xiv) consortia of these groups; and (xv) non-profit entities authorized by the commissioner. Innovation Schools Statute
  2. Have completed the first stage of the authorization process as outlined in G.L., c. 71, § 92 (m). The first stage of the authorization process requires that the applicant's prospectus be approved by two-thirds of the district's three-member screening committee.
  3. Not have received a previous planning grant award.
Important note: private and parochial schools are not eligible to operate innovation schools as per G.L., c. 71, § 92.

Current innovation schools or academies are not eligible to apply.
Funding:Grant requests should range between $50,000 and $100,000. The Department estimates that 4 to 8 grants will be awarded, though the final number of awards is subject to the quality of proposals and the availability of funds.
Fund Use: Funds must be used solely to support the high impact, in-depth, new or conversion school development planning process. All planning activities must be reasonable, appropriate, and consistent with all applicable state and federal requirements.

Examples of allowable expenditures include, but are not limited to: 1) stipends for educators to participate in the planning process, and 2) services provided by partners.

Examples of unallowable expenditures include, but are not limited to: 1) capital expenses; 2) the purchase of computer hardware; 3) out-of-state travel expenses, and 4) purchase of food or beverages.
Project Duration:Upon approval- 06/30/2016
Program Unit:Office Charter Schools and School Redesign
Contact:Sheika Edmond
Required Prior to Grant Submission: Interested applicants must submit an email to indicating their intent to apply. The non-binding intent to apply email must include: 1) the name(s) of the proposed Innovation School(s) for which the applicant seeks planning grant funding; and 2) the contact information (name, title, email address, and phone number) for the applicant and district personnel who should be include on any communications regarding this grant program prior to the submission of a full application.

Technical Assistance Webinar (optional): Thursday, October 8, 2015. The webinar will be held from 3:30-4:30, and will provide participants with an overview of the Request for Proposal and opportunity to have questions answered.

Webinar Login Instructions: the participant link is SCOPIA Desktop for Avaya Aura Collaboration Suite Select "I am a guest", enter your name, and meeting ID 3100, then select "Participate Now." First-time users will be prompted to download the Scopia Desktop Client. Due to limited phone ports, webinar participants are strongly encouraged to participate via their devices audio speakers/headsets /microphones.

Intent to Apply Email Due — Thursday, October 15, 2015
Date Due: Completed Grant Proposals must be received by the Department by 5:00PM on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Applicant Interviews: All applicants will be required to participate in a panel interview at the Department. The lead applicant, district superintendent or designee and members of the district leadership team (as appropriate) must be in attendance. Interviews will be held Wednesday, November 18, 2015 through Friday, November 20, 2015.
Required Forms:
Download Excel Document
Budget Workbook - Includes- both Part I-General Program Signature Page (Cover Sheet)- and Part II- Project Expenditures-Detail Information
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Part III- Required Program Information Form
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Part IV- Innovation Schools Approval Calendar
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Part V- Assurances From- required for all applicants
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Part VI- Review Sheet (not to be completed by applicants-informational purposes only)
Copy of final approved innovation school prospectus
Submission Instructions: Email all required documents, in their original Word or Excel formats (e.g., not converted to a PDF), to Note: Signatures are not required on the emailed versions.


Mail three (3) sets of all required documents which includes original signatures to:
Sheika Edmond
Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906

All emailed and mailed documents must be received by the Department by 5:00PM on Thursday, November 5, 2015.