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 Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund is a $19.4 million fund created under Georgia’s RT3 plan that provides competitive grants to support the establishment and deepening of partnerships between Georgia local education authorities (LEAs) or charter schools, institutions of higher education (IHEs), businesses and non-profit organizations to advance the applied learning and academic achievement of Georgia’s K-12 students.

The purpose of the Innovation Fund is to fund partnerships that develop or implement innovative and high-impact programs aimed at producing positive outcomes for students. Additionally, the State intends to use the Innovation Fund to determine best practices in innovative programming related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, applied learning and teacher and leader recruitment and development to influence future education policy efforts.


At the core of the Innovation Fund is the following theory:

IF, public and private organizations are encouraged by financial resources, policy environments and supportive operating conditions, THEN, the State of Georgia will benefit from a stronger commitment from diverse stakeholders to support and advance K-12 public education, the ability to replicate innovative practices with a demonstrated record of success, and ultimately, improved outcomes for students.


By supporting Innovation Fund grantees, the State of Georgia will benefit from:

1) A measurably stronger commitment from public and private sectors to support and advance positive academic outcomes for students

2) An increased number and percentage of students and teachers with access to innovative programs, strategies, and practices related to STEM education, applied learning and teacher/leader recruitment and development

3. A stronger understanding of the types of innovative programs, strategies, and practices that will lead to positive improvements in applied learning, teacher induction, and homegrown teacher pipeline efforts

4) Improved student outcomes.




Building the Pipeline of Highly Effective Charter Teachers and Leaders: The Georgia Charter Schools Association and Lake Oconee Academy will develop and expand three recruitment, training and alternate certification programs to attract, support and retain highly effective teachers and leaders in the charter school sector.

Community Partnership for a Quality Pipeline of Effective High School Leaders: The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement will support Paulding County School System to build district capacity and create a pipeline of effective high school leaders.

Computational Thinking: 21st Century STEM Problem-Solving Skills for Georgia Students: The Georgia Institute of Technology will work with B.E. Mays High School and Tapjoy, Inc. to incorporate computational thinking into high school STEM curricula, teaching students to construct models to simulate, visualize and solve real-world problems.

Charter System Leadership Development and Governance Certification Program: As a newly approved charter system, Fulton County Schools and its partners will launch the Leadership and Innovation Academy, a program to equip principals and School Governance Councils with the skills they need to successfully operate and govern a charter school.

Drew Charter School Partnership for Expansion: Drew Charter School, the Georgia Tech Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (GT CEISMC), the Georgia State University School of Music and others will expand Drew’s highly successful pre-K-8 STEAM curriculum to grades 9-12, creating a true cradle-to-college pipeline serving inner-city students.

Greene County STEAM TLA Collaborative: Greene County Schools, the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia faculty and Ed Innovation Partners seek to open a charter school in Greene County with the mission of increasing the number of students who choose STEM fields as a career.

Museum in a Box: The Museum School of Avondale Estates will work with Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Atlanta History Center and others to expand the school’s highly successful museum-based learning strategy to metro-area schools.

Real STEM: A partnership between Georgia Southern University, seven area research institutes and six school districts to develop hands-on STEM learning modules related to the environmental concerns of Georgia’s coastal region.

Rockdale 21st Century Academy of Environmental Studies: Rockdale County Schools, in partnership with GT CEISMC and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), will create a STEM-focused middle grades school that provides students with portfolio and project-based learning modules.



Murray County STEM Academy:  Murray County Schools, in partnership with Georgia Northwestern Technical College, the Chatsworth-Murray County Chamber of Commerce and others will open program focused on remediating 8th grade students and developing their interest in STEM careers.


The New Teacher Residency Project:  A partnership between Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School and Georgia State University College of Education to address fundamental flaws in the traditional new teacher induction model. 


Smyrna Academy of Excellence:  The Smyrna Educational Alliance, in partnership with Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin Corp. and others, seeks to open a STEM charter school serving students in south Cobb County. 


STEM for Life Program: A partnership between Carroll County Schools and Southwire to expand and replicate the existing 12 for Life Program, which supplements classroom learning with real-world experience in advanced manufacturing.


The STEM Targeted Education Program (STEP) Academy: An accelerated coursework, mentoring and Biotechnology Research and Development career pathway program serving at-risk overage eighth grade students in Gwinnett County Public Schools through a partnership with Gwinnett Technical College and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.


Student Applied Learning, New Teacher Induction and Staff Leadership Program: Morehouse College, in partnership with Clayton County Schools, will provide an interwoven approach to applied learning and teacher professional development through the implementation of a summer student research and teacher development program.


Teach to Learn: A teacher induction program that builds a comprehensive support bridge between teacher preparation at the University of Georgia and teacher induction in Clarke County Schools while building school leadership capacity.


Tift County Mechatronics Partnership:  Tift County Schools, in partnership with Moultrie Technical College, ConAgra Foods, Heatcraft Manufacturing and others, will develop a career pathway focused on Mechatronics, an interdisciplinary field of study involving control systems, electronic systems, computers and mechanical systems, that will equip students to work in a variety of industrial, manufacturing and health sciences settings. 


UGA/GAEL Early Career Principal Residency Program:  The University of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders will implement a two-year induction program for early career principals in the state’s lowest achieving schools.)




Drew Charter School Partners of Innovation: A partnership between Georgia State University and Georgia Institute for Technology and Drew Charter School to create one of the state’s first STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) schools.


Teach for Georgia: A teacher pipeline program modeled after Teach for America that will recruit Georgia Institute for Technology STEM majors to teach in rural areas of Georgia.


21st Century STEM Collaborations: Applications of the Direct to Discovery Model – A collaboration between Barrow County Schools and the Georgia Institute for Technology to integrate the Direct to Discovery method into the requirements of the Georgia Performance Standards.


The KIPP Teacher Fellows Program: A teacher induction program that will train Georgia State University and Mercer University College of Education graduates and deploy them to metro Atlanta schools where they are most needed.


The Regional Charter STEM Academy: A partnership between White, Hall, and Lumpkin county school systems and North Georgia College & State University to create a tri-county STEM charter school.

 Content Editor


Lauren Wright, Governor's Office of Student Achievement - Race to the Top Project Director