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STRIVING READERS APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE: U.S. Department of Education to Make Approximately Eight Grants for Fiscal Year 2005

The U.S. Department of Education is now accepting grant applications for the $25 million Striving Readers program, which was created to improve the literacy skills of teenage students who read below grade level. The department expects to make approximately eight grant awards ranging from $1 million to $5 million, with an average grant award of $3 million. Awards will be made for a five-year period.

The Striving Readers program seeks to raise the overall level of reading achievement in middle and high schools by improving the quality of literacy instruction across all subject areas. In addition, by testing a variety of interventions through rigorous studies to assess their effectiveness, the department hopes to build a strong, scientific research base around specific strategies that improve adolescent literacy skills.

There are two absolute requirements of which applicants should be aware. First, awards will go to districts that have schools composed of students in grades six and above and are Title I eligible. Second, grant applications must include comprehensive reading initiative components that include

  • a rigorous program evaluation that includes a randomized control trial;
  • school-level strategies designed to increase reading achievement for all students (includes needs assessment, professional development, and measuring student performance); and
  • targeted intervention for struggling readers, defined as students who are at least two years behind grade level (includes assessments to identify struggling readers, a supplementary literacy intervention, professional development, and a process for monitoring student progress).

Given the comprehensive and demanding eligibility requirements, the department has assured the Alliance for Excellent Education that it will work with potential grantees as the submission process moves forward, and that it will exercise all possible flexibility to ensure that all qualified applicants are given full consideration. Promising applicants should not be deterred from applying for Striving Readers grants.

Because this is the first time that the Striving Readers program is soliciting applications, the Alliance would like to track what level of response this opportunity is yielding. If your district is interested in and/or definitely applying for Striving Readers grants, please send a short email message to StrivingReaders@all4ed.org. This information will be used for internal information purposes only and will not be shared with outside parties.

The department will conduct a series of briefings on this competition via conference call to clarify the purposes of the program, the selection criteria, and the competition process. Notice of intent to apply is due by September 14, 2005, and full applications are due by November 14, 2005. Grants are expected to be awarded in December 2005.

The complete Striving Readers application and additional information is available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/applicant.html. Additional questions should be directed to the department via email at StrivingReaders@ed.gov or at 202-205-6272.

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