Reposted from Hanover Research Insights:
Innovation has become a major buzz word in the grants world. Funders increasingly want to support social experiments that will yield positive, cost effective solutions to problems, and they want to do so by investing in models that provide scalable solutions in new, novel ways.
One of the latest examples is First in the World (FITW). This U.S. Department of Education (ED) grant program was announced May 16, which set aside $75 Million in funding for higher education institutions that can demonstrate innovative models to improve student access, retention, and completion. The grant program is part of President Obama’s larger plan to make college more affordable, so that more students enter and graduate. The catch: grantee hopefuls must articulate proposed innovation in their applications. While the Department wants applicants to innovate, it also wants applicants to outline their strong theory of action and existing evidence of promise for the proposed methodology.
Advance planning and preparation is key in developing an innovative program or practice. The basic rule of thumb is to think outside the box and propose something unique; repackaging existing programs as an enhancement or expansion simply won’t pass the innovation test. If your organization is truly ready and able to innovate, take the time to know the existing practices in your field, what works well and what does not, and who the appropriate collaborators are for you to work with to build a solution that will bridge the gaps.