SEATTLE – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering up to $20 million in grants to attract new technology aimed at helping students get a college degree. The grants are available to organizations and entrepreneurs who come up with new ways to get students ready for college and then succeed while they’re on campus.
The Next Generation Learning Challenges is a collaborative, multi-year program that seeks to improve college readiness and college completion in the U.S. through the use of information technology. The program will provide grants to organizations and innovators to expand promising technology tools to more students, teachers and schools. The project will be led by the nonprofit EDUCAUSE, which works to advance higher education through information technology.
“American education has been the best in the world, but we’re falling below our own high standards of excellence for high school and college attainment,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a statement. “We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation. We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed.”
Next Generation Learning Challenges released the first of a series of RFPs (request for proposals) Monday to solicit proposals for technology applications that can improve postsecondary education. This round of funding will total up to $20 million, including grants that range from $250,000 to $750,000. Applicants with top-rated proposals will receive funds to expand their programs and demonstrate effectiveness in serving larger numbers of students. Proposals are due November 19, 2010; winners are expected to be announced by March 31, 2011.
The Gates Foundation, along with the Hewlett Foundation, has worked closely with four education nonprofits in creating the initiative: EDUCAUSE, the Council of Chief State School Officers, League for Innovation in the Community College and International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
“(The collaborating organizations) want these innovative online programs to reside in the educational community, as they have to if they are going to scale up and spread,” EDUCAUSE president Diana G. Oblinger told The New York Times.