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Ohio’s Straight A Fund is Largest Competitive Innovation Fund

Release date: 9/13/2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Educational leaders across the nation will be looking at Ohio as it implements a new $250 million fund to spur creativity and innovation in schools. The new “Straight A Fund” is the largest statewide, competitive innovation fund in the history of American education, and Ohio is just one of a few states—such as Georgia and Colorado—that have a competitive program explicitly for funding innovative ideas.

Ohio’s Straight A Fund also is unique in its focus on sustainability, its openness to consider any idea or project that aims to meet the stated outcomes, and collaboration among educational entities and public and private partners. The state is urging innovative education providers nationwide to consider partnering with individual Ohio districts to submit a grant proposal.

Grants from the fund will provide seed money for the most creative and forward-thinking ideas coming from educators and their partners. The fund will allow local schools and districts to pursue three goals:

  • Significant advancement in raising student achievement;
  • Significant advancement in reducing spending; and
  • Significant advancement in targeting more resources to the classroom.

“The Straight A Fund governing board will pay special attention to proposals that promote sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness and involve innovative new ways of teaching and learning,” said Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership and the newly elected board chairman.

“Sometimes in Columbus and Washington we make prescriptions for what local schools and teachers should do to achieve success when really we should be focusing on student outcomes and empowering schools to do what they need to do to get those outcomes,” said Dr. Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “The Straight A Fund does that.”

The fund also will promote lasting value by requiring that innovations be sustainable so student achievement and operational effectiveness can continue well after the grant money is used.

“We believe that many educators and administrators are eager for transformation and have the innovative spirit needed to improve student achievement and increase school and district operational efficiencies,” said Ross. “We are encouraging these local educators to propose ideas they can lead—or be part of—that will help our schools be more creative, effective and efficient.”

Ohio’s biennial education budget dedicated $100 million for the fund in fiscal year 2014 and $150 million in fiscal year 2015 to provide grants to districts, schools, educational service centers, community schools, STEM schools, college-preparatory boarding schools, education consortia (representing a partnership among city, local, exempted village districts, school buildings, community schools, or STEM schools), institutions of higher education and private entities partnering with one or more of these entities.

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