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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2017

EPIC Partnership Innovation Grant
Fund Code: 178

Purpose: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is offering the EPIC Partnership Innovation Grant (Fund Code 178), a competitive grant opportunity to support partnerships between educator preparation organizations and school districts designed to improve the recruitment, development, and placement of high quality teachers in K-12 employment. Funding will support new or existing partnerships between ed prep organizations and districts designed to improve the pipeline of teachers entering into a district, such that novice teachers are better prepared to meet higher levels of expertise and instruction demanded by Massachusetts' rigorous college- and career-ready standards, new evaluation standards, and rapidly diversifying student population.

Massachusetts has set forth an ambitious goal: By 2022, candidates prepared by Massachusetts' preparation providers will enter classrooms and demonstrate results on par with peers in their third year of teaching.

While recognizing the developmental nature of the profession, the DESE believes preparation can and should prepare educators to be ready to make impact on day one. There is great urgency in attaining this goal. Massachusetts boasts the strongest student performance results in the nation,1 yet we experience two challenges that affect our ability to close persistent proficiency gaps:
  1. Our first-year teachers are not as effective with students as their more experienced peers, and

  2. these teachers are more likely to be assigned to teach our most vulnerable students.2

Given that improvement in teacher performance is most steep at the beginning of an educator's career,3 advancing readiness prior to entry holds promise for long-term impact with students. By focusing efforts on preparing teachers to make positive impact from the first day they enter classrooms, we can systemically raise the beginning point for growth and accelerate the effectiveness of beginning teachers.

As part of this core priority area of improving educator effectiveness from day 1, the EPIC Partnership Innovation Grant will promote innovative partnership models—both burgeoning and existing—that seek to change the way they do business in order to strengthen the teacher workforce from preparation through employment. DESE will regard awardees of this grant as innovators in advancing effective, evidence-based partnership models. DESE will collect, document, and share promising practices developed by awardees through this grant program in order to inform other Massachusetts districts and educator preparation organizations.

Statewide goal and priorities: This grant program supports the state's overarching goal, to prepare all students for success after high school. Grant funds will contribute to this goal by supporting the following state priorities:
  • Strengthen curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Improve educator effectiveness
District standards: Activities funded under this grant may support any or all of the following four standards identified by DESE's District Standards and Indicators:
  • Governance and leadership
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Human resources and professional development
  • Student support
Priorities: This grant is designed to address a persistent disconnect between many districts and the ed prep providers with whom they work, and the opportunity to better leverage partnerships to improve the pipeline of teachers coming into a district.

The focus of this grant represents a shift in how many relationships with ed prep providers and districts currently form, which often exists at the school level rather than the district level. With stronger partnerships emerging from district-level systems and leadership, there are great opportunities to solidify more intentional relationships with ed prep providers in recruiting, developing, placing, and retaining new teachers, particularly in some of the hardest to staff roles.

As such, the work outlined in the grant proposal should be innovative in that it effectively and explicitly seeks to cultivate a partnership model that is bold, mutually beneficial, and clearly intended to produce teacher candidates who better meet district and student needs. When done well, these partnerships require significant time and resources on behalf of both educator preparation organizations and districts, including but not limited to structural, systems-based, and cultural changes.

Applicants may propose partnerships that address these priorities through a variety of means, including but not limited to:
  • Revamping field and coursework expectations to bring into tighter alignment with district priorities
  • Co-development and operation of new program(s) designed to improve the quality and/or quantity of prospective teachers that meet specific talent needs of the district
  • Co-development of new processes, expectations or shared roles for supervising practitioners/mentors
  • Creation of new student teaching placement models, e.g. centralizing and organizing all student teaching placements within a district, residency-based programs, guaranteed placement models, etc.
  • Grow-your-own programs that leverage teacher candidates from local district communities
  • Development of joint induction & mentoring programs
Because the focus on partnerships is a relatively new stream of support from ESE, DESE seeks to support partnerships in demonstrating coherent planning and implementation from the very beginning. Therefore, the 18-month grant program articulates the following implementation time periods allotted to strategic planning, implementation, and sustainability planning in order to ensure that grantees approach the work systematically.
  • January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017: Strategic Planning and Establishing Structures to Support Implementation
    • FY18 funds contingent on Progress Report due June 15th, 2017.
  • July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018: Implementation & Sustainability Planning
Successful proposals will include the following characteristics:
  • Leadership at the district- and org-levels, as well as thoughtfulness regarding how individuals are selected to lead and carry out the work
  • Data-driven objectives/rationales
  • Interim/Summative outcome goals
  • Clearly articulated plan for the 6-month strategic planning period (1/1/17 - 6/30/17) and the subsequent implementation period (7/1/17 - 6/30/18)
  • Scope (scale of impact: # teacher candidates, # students, # supervising practitioners)
  • Regular communications plan (weekly, monthly points of contact)
  • Sustainability plan
  • Budget (by FY)
Successful proposals will also result in models that are sustainable and/or replicable across other districts and educator preparation organizations. As a condition of this grant, recipients will be expected to participate in state activities to evaluate and share the promising practices developed through use of these grant funds. Awarded partnerships will be asked to share their work through conferences, publications, and/or websites organized by ESE. Awardees may also be asked to participate in research or evaluation activities related to their funded activities.

For more information about components of a successful proposal, please see the Annotated Application Form, Score Card, and MA Planning & Implementation Framework resource, available in Additional Information.

Eligibility: This grant is available to partnerships between all Massachusetts public school districts, including charter schools, and approved educator preparation organizations. Partnerships must include at least one public school district or charter school and at least one approved educator preparation organization.

Districts may apply with more than one educator preparation organization partner.

Funding: The total allocation for this grant program is $275,000.

The exact number of grant recipients will depend on the availability of funds and the grant amounts requested. Average awards are anticipated to range from $15,000 to $35,000 per partnership. The maximum award for any individual district or group of districts is $50,000.

Fund Use: Partnerships may use funds for planning and implementation. Fund use must be consistent with applicable state and/or federal requirements. Partnerships are allowed to budget funds at the district level and school level, as well as at the educator preparation organization and program level.

Allowable expenditures include:
  1. Stipends for educators
  2. Substitute expenses
  3. Curriculum materials
  4. Contracts for external partners to support the work
  5. In-state travel to attend DESE conferences related to the project
  6. Other reasonable costs associated with project implementation
Unallowable expenditures:
  1. Contract buyouts
  2. Capital expenses
  3. Purchase of technology, computer software, or hardware, unless a compelling case can be made as to why these materials are necessary to complete grant-funded work
All expenditures will be closely reviewed as they relate to the priorities of this grant opportunity.

Project Duration: 1/1/2017 - 6/30/2018
Program Unit: Center for Instructional Support
Contact: Meagan Comb
Phone Number: (781) 338-3234
Date Due: Monday, December 5, 2016
Proposals must be received at the Department by 12:00 p.m. on the date due.

Required Forms:
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants) To be completed by the Lead Applicant.
Download Excel Document
Part II — Budget Detail Pages (Include both pages.) Attachment Updated 11/22/16
Additional Information:
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Annotated Application Form
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Score Card
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Massachusetts Planning and Implementation Framework
Submission Instructions:
  1. Submit one electronic copy, excluding original signature page, to Ben Peisch at

  2. Submit five print copies of all application materials plus one print copy of the signature page with an original signature of the Lead Applicant to:

    Meagan Comb
    Center for Instructional Support
    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    75 Pleasant Street Malden, MA 02148-4906



Last Updated: August 31, 2016
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