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Empowering Educators through Autonomy Planning Grant

Grants to Massachusetts Schools and School Districts
to Explore Systemic Models to Increase School Autonomy

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Deadline Date:

02/01/19 5:00 PM


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Grants of up to $30,000 to Massachusetts schools and school districts to explore potential structures that will give low-performing schools greater autonomy and flexibility. Funding may be used for workshops, convenings, and visits for community stakeholders and district leaders to learn more about autonomous models.

DESE outlined the importance of greater school autonomy in its ESSA plan by stating that districts with low-performing schools should explore innovation zones or other structures which would grant a cluster of schools, within a district, with additional "autonomies, flexibilities, and compensation systems necessary for persistently low-performing schools." The effectiveness of sustained school-based autonomy as an effective practice in school turnaround is noted in DESE's Turnaround Practice and Research Evaluation Reports.

Districts will require significant support in the exploration process as they decide whether enhanced school autonomy, and aligned structures to support and sustain autonomy, is a fit for their community. In collaboration with Empower Schools, DESE will support districts in determining whether this approach is the right fit for their community. This support could include but is not limited to:
- Convenings or visits for district leaders and community stakeholders to learn about the autonomous models in Springfield and Lawrence
- Workshops to explore the benefits of autonomy and ways to achieve it

Fund use must be consistent with the priorities described above, with the goal of exploring structures to promote autonomy for schools and enhanced decision-making for educators. Funds may be used for a variety of activities, including but not limited to:
- Stipends for educators to participate in the exploration team
- Travel funds to visit districts using autonomous school structures
- Costs for facilitators and/or exploration consultants, etc.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184940

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Districts apply for up to $30,000 to support the activities described above. Grant applications above $10,000 are conditional based on DESE approval of a proposal demonstrating that the district will complete the products and outcomes of these activities.

Term of Contract:

Upon Approval (no earlier than 2/1/19) – 6/30/2019

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All Massachusetts Local Education Agencies (districts) and Massachusetts schools are eligible to apply for this grant.

Districts will be given competitive priority in scoring for each of the following eligibilities:
- Percentage of high needs students served
- Vision for promoting equitable learning outcomes across the district with consideration to the subset of students not meeting learning targets
- Submission of a vision for exploration with names of district members who will comprise a district exploration team. The team must include members working at the district level and a school leader.

Pre-Application Information:

Due Date: Friday, February 1, 2019 by 5:00 PM

Turnaround Practices Research and Evaluation Reports:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Applications must be submitted to:
Lauren Woo

Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts