i3 Grant

Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund 

Ed.gov logoThe PhillyFAST-i3 Project is also known as the Investing in Family Engagement Project in Philadelphia. This project is funded through an i3 grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of Education, through the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund established under section 14007 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  i3 funds are competitively awarded to educational research and scale-up initiatives that include local educational agencies (LEAs) and nonprofit organizations who partner with LEAs or school consortia. The competitive grants are awarded to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment.  They are intended to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that have demonstrated impacts on improving student achievement or growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded $15 million to our ambitious partnership, which includes: the Philadelphia nonprofit Turning Points for Children, nonprofit Families and Schools Together, Inc., the School District of Philadelphia, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and the American Institutes for Research. This five-year initiative is engaging K-2 families and students in 58 schools hosting FAST® and FASTWORKS®.

Details of Investing in Family Engagement Project i3 Award

Timing: 2012-2017

Amount: $15 million, shared by 5 partners

Grant Type: Validation

Validation grants provide funding to support expansion of projects supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness….to the national level…or the regional level…Validation grants must further assess the effectiveness of the i3-supported practice through a rigorous evaluation, with particular focus on the populations for, and the contexts in, which the practice is most effective.  We expect and consider it appropriate that each applicant propose to use the validation funding to build its capacity to deliver the i3-supported practice, particularly early in the funding period, to successfully reach the level of scale proposed in its application.  Additionally, we expect each applicant to address any specific barriers to the growth or scaling of the organization or practice (including barriers related to cost-effectiveness) in order to deliver the i3-supported practice at the proposed level of scale and provide strategies to address these barriers as part of its proposed scaling plan. (See Federal Register, Vol. 80, No. 108)

i3 Program Priorities 

Absolute Priority 4—Indications of school turnaround reflected in school climate improvements
Competitive Preference Priority 6—Improvements in early learning


To implement and validate a targeted approach to reform (FAST) to reduce critical barriers to school success, including lack of family engagement and family stress….in low-performing schools.

Independent Evaluation

AIR is conducting an independent evaluation of program impacts through implementing a Randomized Control Trial to explore whether FAST improves family-school engagement, family functioning, and family social supports for incoming students.  In addition, AIR conducted a quasi-experiment and parent focus groups.

Results and Outcomes

We aim to provide education stakeholders throughout the nation, i3 community, and Philadelphia

  • Evaluation results that illuminate the effectiveness of the i3-supported practice for the targeted populations and the educational environment;
  • Illumination of the context/s in which the program was most effective or least effective;
  • Explication of barriers to growth or scaling and implications thereof;
  • Identification of research and practice questions (and implications) which are important to address given all of the above.


President Obama, January 28, 2014

"The America we want for our kids—a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us—none of it is easy. But if we work together, if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today, but our eyes cast towards tomorrow—I know it's within our reach."