by Pam Zubeck
Colorado is among the savvy seven states that each will receive a share of the $200 million Race to the Top Round 3 federal education grant to improve student achievement. Colorado's share is $17.9 million over four years, the state said in a news release.
The state's cost of application was $60,000 and involved help from various organizations, including the El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs.
Today’s announcement of the Race to the Top Phase 3 award marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to secure additional funds to support the state’s aggressive education reform agenda. Countless individuals, educators, public/private agencies, business groups, and the state’s policy makers helped craft a vision for the state’s education system that was articulated in the first and second phases of the Race to the Top applications. Colorado has been actively implementing that reform agenda despite not receiving the Phase I or 2 funding.
“The award of Phase 3 funds, which was based on the state’s Phase 2 application, recognizes the excellent and hard work of all of the individuals who helped draft the state’s reform agenda and provides much needed financial support to maintain and accelerate momentum on the state’s reform efforts,” Education Commissioner Robert Hammond said. “The Colorado Legacy Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Donnell Kay Foundation, Piton Foundation and the Daniels Fund, all came together to help fund and support the development of Colorado’s grant application and their contributions made our application very strong.”
The announcement is welcome news for Colorado after having recently been edged out of earning a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. That award would have supported early childhood education initiatives.
Focus of the RTT3 Grant
The state’s grant will focus on four major areas designed to advance the state’s education reforms:
Leveraging and expanding the state’s capacity to support district implementation of the state’s reforms;
Implementing the Colorado Academic Standards through the work of Content Collaboratives (teams of educators with content and assessment expertise who will develop tools and assessments to assist educators in implementing the new standards and with accessing multiple measures of student learning for use in educator evaluations);
Supporting district implementation of the state’s educator effectiveness law (S.B. 10-191); and
Increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education across the state.
As with prior rounds of Race to the Top, 50 percent of the award is designated for district use. All districts are eligible to participate in Phase 3. District funds are allocated based on their Title I share distributions. The state has 100 days after the grant is awarded to work with districts to determine participation.