Regarding the new Innovation and Equity Fund in the FY 2021 budget, please provide the criteria for how the funding will be distributed and when the initial distribution is expected to occur?

Question#: 35


The purpose of the Innovation Fund is to provide school communities with resources to implement innovative ideas to close gaps in access, opportunity, and achievement for students. The Innovation Fund is a subset of the Equity and Innovation Fund proposed in the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2021 Operating Budget.

As envisioned, the Innovation Fund will be open for submissions two or more times each year for a school, or group of schools, to submit proposals for resources to implement an idea. We envision the first window opening in August 2020 and closing mid-October 2020.

The Innovation Fund, and the submission windows, would be widely promoted to ensure participation by schools. To remove barriers that might discourage or delay proposals, the submission process will be simplified, streamlined, and accept multiple mediums (ex., written, audio, video). 

All successful proposals will include a goal of achieving greater equity for students and a framework for accountability to the goal. MCPS staff and community stakeholders will develop additional parameters for the Innovation Fund.

All submitted proposals will be posted online to provide awareness and transparency. A team of MCPS leaders and community stakeholders will provide an initial review of all proposals to ensure they meet the parameters and align with MCPS policies and regulations. Once proposals have passed the initial vetting, MCPS will hold a public pitch contest, similar to the model used in the popular television investment program, Shark Tank.

To extend the impact of the Innovation Fund, MCPS will partner with the MCPS Educational Foundation, as well as other local foundations, to provide additional resources to support a proposal, if and when possible.

We anticipate the funds for the grantees will be distributed by December 1, 2020.

In addition to the Innovation Fund, the Equity and Innovation Fund has monies designated for:

  • The creation of a planning committee focused on the development and operation of Community Schools in MCPS;
  • The expansion of efforts toward recruiting, attracting, and retaining highly qualified teachers for every classroom in every school; and
  • The creation of the Equity Seed Fund to distribute to more highly impacted schools and schools with an identified need to provide more equitable opportunities for students. 

The total proposed budget for the Equity and Innovation Fund is $1,600,000, which includes $300,000 for the Innovation Fund; $500,000 for community school planning; $500,000 for the expanded recruitment effort; and $300,000 for the Equity Seed Fund.