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October 5, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Awards More Than $5 Million in Innovation Grants to Florida Schools

ORLANDO — Education Commissioner John L. Winn and K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., today announced their intent to award $5.65 million in innovation grants to 50 school districts, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Florida Virtual School and PK Young School. The grants were awarded based on partnerships developed between Florida schools that have successfully implemented career academies or other innovative programs and schools in other districts wishing to replicate these programs. Partnerships between 226 schools resulted in 113 grants awarded primarily to middle and high schools. The grant awards were the culmination of yesterday's Innovation Fair, part of the 2006 K-12 Conference in Orlando.

"Part of the vision for the A++ Plan for Education is to make secondary schools more engaging, and the partnerships forged at this conference hold great promise for the transfer of success from one school to another," said Commissioner Winn. "We are all teachers, learners and colleagues when it comes to helping our students achieve. This opportunity to share best practices and innovations will continue to put Florida on the map as a national leader in education."

More than 60 schools with successful career academies or innovative programs were featured at yesterday's fair and through conference break-out sessions. School administrators in attendance had the opportunity to gather information on the programs and establish partnerships with the schools highlighted in order to apply for the competitive innovation grants. Each selected partnership received a total grant of $50,000, with the majority — $40,000 — awarded to the school seeking to replicate and implement the successful program. The remaining $10,000 will be provided to the school with the existing program to assist with training and mentoring costs.

"This is all about schools lending other schools a helping hand," said Chancellor Yecke. "We have so many exemplary programs in Florida, and this matchmaking event offered schools an opportunity to learn more about what their colleagues are doing, pair up with another school, and work together to replicate their success."

More than 200 applications were received from schools and school districts in attendance at yesterday's Innovation Fair. Districts were asked to prioritize the applications they submitted. In the first round of judging, each applying district was awarded its top two choices. Priority was then given to failing schools, followed by districts that had never before received SUCCEED, Florida! grants.