In the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund competition, 15 states are getting an important, early boost courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation has hand-picked these states to receive up to $250,000 each to hire consultants to help them fill out their applications. (McKinsey & Co. and The Bridgespan Group are two examples of consulting firms states are considering.)
The 15 states are: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
These states represent either those in which Gates is already invested—or that the foundation thinks are on the right path to reform. Word about Gates’ involvement in Race to the Top has been simmering for weeks now—and it’s not secret to states getting the money—but the Foundation still isn’t saying anything official.
Given how complex and lengthy the Race to the Top application process is, and how many different criteria states need to address, many will likely struggle to get everything done in time for Phase 1. (Applications will be due before the end of the year.) So having some high-powered consultants to help could make a big difference.