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Niswonger Foundation wins federal education grant

The Washington County School System will receive some funds from an “Investing in Innovation” grant recently awarded to the Niswonger Foundation.
Scott M. Niswonger, president and founder of the Niswonger Foundation, said the organization won the more than $18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Washington County will be one of the fifteen school systems to receive some of that federal grant money.
“We’re very fortunate to have the Niswonger Foundation in this area,” said Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes. “It’s such a benevolent organization and a strong proponent of education.”
Dykes said the money will be used to “address the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum, as well as distance learning, and quite a bit of staff development.”
According to the Niswonger Foundation, funds given to schools will help improve the rigor of their high school curriculum, increase graduation rates, raise ACT scores, provide more dual-enrollment classes with our community colleges, and create greater opportunities for career technical students.
The money, Dykes said, will be used “to reach as many students as possible to prepare them for a new era of jobs requiring more stringent preparation.”
Niswonger Foundation Director of School Partnerships, Linda Irwin, who prepared the grant application and is the administrator of the grant, explained that only 49 school districts, nonprofit education organizations and institutions of higher education across the U.S. were selected from nearly 1,700 applicants. To receive a share of the $650 million in i3 Grants, the winning applicants must be able to secure a commitment for a 20 percent private sector match by September 8.
The U.S. Department of Education selected the 49 finalists based on recommendations from independent peer review panels. Grants fall into three categories: up to $50 million per “scale-up” grant for programs with a strong track record of success; up to $30 million per “validation” grant for growing programs with emerging evidence of success; and up to $5 million per “development” grant for promising ideas. The Niswonger Foundation is one of only 15 recipients in the “validation” category and will be awarded $18-$30 million in late September. No other i3 Grants were awarded in Tennessee.