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Site Innovation Grants

DSE is very excited to announce a new initiative with our Site Innovation grant program!

When we started our Classroom Grants program in 2002, there was no technology in classrooms, and the concept of using technology to help students in special education was just beginning to gain ground. Upon opening the Technology Resource Center in 2001, we recognized the need to move technology out to classrooms as well, in order to reach all our students.

Over the years, DSE made a point of making sure our classrooms got the equipment they needed to make learning more accessible for students. We can now proudly say that our classrooms are well equipped with the basics.

We are ready to make the next big spash

There are some amazing new tools and strategies being developed today, and we want to bring them to our students. Technology is moving so quickly it is impossible for schools to keep up, given the pace of budget allocations and other red tape considerations. DSE is nimble enough to be able to identify great ideas and give them a try.

An even greater Impact on Special Education

We'll be looking at big ideas that accomplish the following goals:

  • Increasing learning opportunities by funding alternative, experimental, and innovative tools and curriculum.
  • Encourage "outside-the-box" thinking, and promote big change by giving ideas a chance to impact learning in a way that is meaningful enough to evaluate the impact, yet still small enough that giving it a try doesn't risk taking the whole budget over the cliff.
  • We want to be the fuse that sparks the idea to see if it's worth rolling out on a wider scale. We liken ourselves to the venture capital model. If it proves out, we're on board for helping to widen the scope.

Our Four Pillars of Emphasis

We will be looking to fund projects that address one or more of these basic learning areas:

  • Communication
  • Literacy
  • Curriculum Adaptation and Access
  • Technology that enhances learning opportunities

Collaboration and Team Involvement

Site Innovation Grants can be anywhere from $5000 to $75,000. In a given year, we may only invest in one project or as many as 10, depending on the scope of the project, numbers of students affected and the ability of each Team to articulate the purpose. 

Current Site Innovation Grants

We have already invested in the following Site Innovation Grants for the school year 2016-17:

Learning Ally, a program promoting personal achievement for students who struggle with access and reading, is being deployed in six school districts in Marin in a collaborative effort to overcome significant barriers to learning. DSE has invested $28,000 to make it happen.

The Technology Resource Center, in a significant expansion and redesign of how students, educators and families can take advantage of cutting edge technology, DSE will be investing $85,000 to transform the TRC into a world-class showcase for what's possible.

Site Innovation Grants, like our Classroom Grants should be targeted specifically to students who have IEP's.

How to Apply

Site Innovation Grants are a Team effort. Projects will be considered that are one of the following:

  • An individual school site, where a number of special educators collaborate on a project for implementation in that school. Team members would include the special educators, program manager/s, school prinicipal, district special ed director. In addition, if the project involves technology, we will be requiring an IT team member to help ensure successful implementation
  • A district effort, where two or more schools within a district collaborate on a project for implementation in multiple school sites. Team members would include the special educators, all program managers, district special ed director, and IT support, if the project involves technology.
  • Multi-district collaboration, much like the current Learning Ally project which is bein implemented in six districts. Team members would include special educators, program managers, district special ed directors and IT support.

The application process will require specific input:

In order to apply, each Team must send at least one member to an information and orientation on what will be expected. We plan to schedule a number of these in Fall, 2017 at the TRC. We hope to answer questions and encourage Teams to take advantage of this opportunity. DSE will also work with Teams to help them develop their applications. If we see a great idea that hasn't been developed enough to receive funding, we'll let you know and work with you to give it as good a chance of success as possible.

Given the amounts of money at stake, Site Innovation Grants will be more rigorous than Classroom Grants. Applications will include:

  • Team qualifications
  • Detailed descriptions of the technologies, strategies or systems are involved
  • Specific target areas of need addressed by the project, ie what learning disabilities to be addressed and how.
  • Identify how it fits with our four pillares of intervention.
  • Number of students targeted, including a breakdown of ages and disabilities.
  • How the project will be implemented, including timelines and specific tasks to be accomplished by team members.
  • Comprehensive budget - a spreadsheet outlining all anticipated costs, including costs that may be provided from outside sources.
  • Details on how the team plans to provide feedback on the success of the project. Evaluation is a crucal segement, so we need to know how you plan to measure student achievement at the beginning and at the end.