Innovations in Addressing COVID-19 and Promoting Equity: FY 2021 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Competition Announcement

Written by Jamila Smith, Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

The U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the $180 million FY 2021 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Early-Phase Competition. The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations aimed at improving outcomes for high-needs students. The program also supports the rigorous evaluation of these innovations. The Department expects that early-phase grants will be used to fund the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a program.

State educational agencies, local educational agencies, the Bureau of Indian Education, and nonprofit organizations may submit applications for up to $4 million for a project period of up to five years.

We know that COVID–19 has caused unprecedented disruption in schools across the country and drawn renewed attention to the ongoing challenges that underserved students experience. As a result, the Department is committed to addressing the impact of the pandemic—particularly on students who have been least well served by our education system—and promoting equity through innovative solutions that are reflected in this program’s competitive preference priorities

All across the country, educators and researchers are working to better understand and address the impact of inconsistent access to academic instruction and other vital educational services and supports, as well as other challenges that have affected children’s learning. SEAs, LEAs, and nonprofit organizations play essential roles in building capacity at the state and local levels both to respond to current crises and create better systems to support long-term recovery. Here at the Department, we hope that grantees through the EIR program will share their responses to the pandemic widely to inform scalable strategies that can help meet future challenges that communities throughout the nation face.

Expanding educational equity is a priority for the Department, with particular emphasis on supporting students who are historically and presently underserved. The Department seeks to fund projects that propose innovative ways to address disparities in our education system. For example, we know that students of color and students from low-income backgrounds far too often have less access to well-rounded and rigorous coursework and certified, experienced, and effective teachers. The Department seeks projects that develop and evaluate evidence-based innovations to remedy these types of inequities in our education system.

· Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: August 17, 2021
· Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 27, 2021

For more information regarding the FY 2021 EIR Competition, please visit the program website. Please direct questions to or (202) 453-7122.