Opinion
School & District Management Opinion

School Improvement RFP of the Week (2)

By Marc Dean Millot — January 22, 2008 3 min read
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Digital Humanities Grant as Staff/Product Development Funding

FYI: The humanities include the classics, history, languages and literature, law, performing arts, philosophy, religion, visual arts.
From the January 21 issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report

Announcement:
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants Due April 2 (Jan 15) National Endowment for the Humanities

Their Description:

This program is designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. By awarding relatively low-dollar grants during the planning stages, the goal is to identify projects that are particularly innovative and have the potential to make a positive impact on the humanities....

Proposals should be for the planning or initial stages of digital initiatives in any area of the humanities. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants may involve:

• research that brings new approaches or documents best practices in the study of the digital humanities;
• planning and prototyping new digital tools for preserving, analyzing, and making accessible digital resources, including libraries’ and museums’ digital assets;
• scholarship that examines the philosophical implications and impact of the use of emerging technologies;
• innovative uses of technology for public programming and education utilizing both traditional and/or new media; and
• new digital modes of publication facilitating the dissemination of humanities scholarship in advanced academic as well as informal or formal educational settings at all academic levels....
All applicants must propose an innovative approach, method, tool, or idea that has not been used before in the humanities. These grants are modeled, in part, on the “high risk/high reward” paradigm often used by funding agencies in the sciences....

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants should result in plans, prototypes, or proofs of concept for long-term digital humanities projects prior to implementation.

Two levels of awards will be made in this program. Level I awards are small grants designed to fund brainstorming sessions, workshops, early alpha-level prototypes, and initial planning. Level II awards are larger grants that can be used for more fully-formed projects that are ready to start the first stage of implementation or the creation of working prototypes. Applicants must state in their narrative which funding level they seek....

Support is available for various combinations of scholars, consultants, and research assistants; project-related travel; and technical support and services. Up to 20% of the total grant may also be used for the acquisition of computing hardware and software. All grantees are expected to communicate the results of their work to appropriate scholarly and public audiences....

Successful applicants will be expected, as one of their work products, to create a “lessons learned” white paper....

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants cannot be used for:

• projects that mainly involve digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative new method for digitization;
• the implementation or assessment of existing digital applications in the humanities (however, exploration of or planning for a new direction or tool for an established project is allowed);
• recurring or established conferences or professional meetings...
• creative or performing arts;
• empirical social scientific research;
• work undertaken in the pursuit of an academic degree;
• the preparation or publication of textbooks; or
• projects devoted to political, religious, commercial, or social advocacy.


My Thoughts:
For-profit firms in the school improvement industry should make the modest investment in legal advice required to form an affiliated nonprofit. With access to this kind of funding, providers can offer staff meaningful professional development opportunities, create a source of new product development and basic research and, in times when revenues are likely to be a bit more scarce than in the recent past, a way to maintain core capacity.
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