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Of the record $100 billion in federal education funds appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, Congress and President Obama set aside $5 billion to be awarded at the discretion of the Secretary of Education to states, districts, and consortia that develop robust education reform plans. The $5 billon is broken down as follows:
$4 billion – Race to the Top State Incentive Fund (individual states)
$650 million – Investing in Innovation or i3 Grants (local, regional collaborators)
$350 million – Race to the Top Assessment Grants (multi-state consortia)
In total, these funds represent less than 1% of the $600 billion (federal, state, and local funds) spent on U.S. public elementary and secondary schools.
This unprecedented infusion of federal education reform funds, coupled with unprecedented latitude afforded to a U.S. Secretary of Education, catapulted the Obama Administration to the role of top U.S. venture philanthropist in the education policy world.