Projects that are innovative are creative, utilize critical thinking, and/or are a new way of looking at an old problem. They push students to collaborate and to connect learning with real world relevance, and expose them to new ideas, people, or contexts.

Simply using the latest technology in place of a pencil and paper does not make a project innovative. Field trips and exposure to new contexts can be innovative, but so can an activity inside the same classroom that students attend daily.

These have been identified as top priority areas by the Austin Ed Fund board, based on programming and financial gaps. Please contact Caroline at if you need clarification about how your idea might fit into a content area.

Idea grants are earmarked for individual classrooms, while Incubator grants are awarded to teams of teachers—across a grade level, department, or campus, for example. Incubator recipients are eligible for up to $10,000, while Idea awards are capped at $2,000. Corresponding with the higher amount of funding, Incubator recipients must demonstrate a higher level of collaboration, students served, and measurable outcomes.

Individuals or teams of individuals employed by Austin ISD who are involved in the instruction of students or related support services benefiting students may apply. This can include professionals such as librarians, art teachers, or CTE instructors.

We welcome student involvement at all stages of the process, including project brainstorming and development as well as helping lead implementation. We encourage teachers to brainstorm with their students about “dream projects.” There must be a teacher associated with all Innovation Grants projects, to oversee the application up front and the subsequent financial accountability, project implementation, and reporting at the end of the grant.

No. All funds will be awarded to Austin ISD exclusively. Recipient projects may include collaboration with other entities across the greater community such as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, but please note that the intent of this grant opportunity is to fund Austin ISD teachers, classrooms, and campuses directly.

Yes.  A sample application and grantwriting resources are available on the Apply Here page.  

Yes, one goal of the Incubator grants is to scale or replicate successful ideas taking place on a small scale so that more students can learn from best practices.

Yes, you must verify that your project concept has received the go-ahead from your principal prior to submission, and Austin Ed Fund will verify this prior to approving an award. This will ensure that you have the necessary campus support to implement your project successfully.

You are encouraged to apply for the amount you anticipate needing for your project, based on your research. The application asks you to outline a projected budget and the committee will take its feasibility into consideration when selecting recipients. Remember that our goal is to support as many innovative projects as possible—so please dream big with your ideas while also being practical with your budget.

You may use the funds to purchase materials. However, they must be part of a clearly outlined strategy to support your project’s innovative goals. We will not fund materials just for materials’ sake.

Yes—if you are able to leverage funding from other grant sources or your campus budget and only need a portion of your project’s cost from Austin Ed Fund, you are welcome to apply for that portion. Your project will still be subject to the same grant guidelines and the same reporting standards as a project wholly funded by Austin Ed Fund.

Dates for the 2017 Innovation Grant application process are posted on the Guidelines and Apply Here pages.  The 2017 grant deadline is Thursday, April 6 at 5 pm.  For 2016 grant recipients, final reports are due to Austin Ed Fund by May 19, 2017 and all projects must be completed and funds spent by that time.  

Yes, the Innovation Grants application is modeled after and closely aligned with the application for the Austin Creative Classroom Fund (ACCF), in hopes of maximizing efficiency for teachers who may have applied to the ACCF in the past. On the application, there are some minor modifications and additional questions.  Please note that the guidelines and priorities are not identical and your project may be better suited to one grant opportunity than the other, so please read carefully if you are utilizing the same materials. Many thanks to MINDPOP and ACCF for this collaboration!