Investing in innovation (i3) grant

The Riley Institute at Furman, New Tech Network, and KnowledgeWorks won a highly competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) grant in 2011 for the development of STEM-focused New Tech schools in two of the nation’s persistently lowest-achieving, most economically under-resourced and underdeveloped rural communities in the nation.

The approximately $3 million grant provided the two project districts--Clarendon School District One and Colleton County School District--with:

  • five years of professional development and coaching by New Tech Network (approximately 600 hours),

  • New Tech Network’s integrated online learning platform (Echo),

  • some technology infrastructure, and

  • staff support from the New Tech Network and the Riley Institute.

Students will be prepared for college and career, graduating with the academic and employability skills we know our colleges and businesses demand, including: written and oral communication, critical thinking, collaboration, agency, and content knowledge. This one-time federal investment makes possible a multi-level transformation that ensures long-term sustainability through systemic changes, ongoing resources, and stakeholder support.

Featured Student Voices

 Creating a Corridor of innovation

In August of 2013, ninth-graders in two rural South Carolina towns became the first to experience the innovative New Tech Network approach in South Carolina, through the i3 grant.  The project, “Creating a Corridor of Innovation,” implements the New Tech model, which is based on four design pillars:

  • Culture that Empowers: School-wide culture of empowerment for students and adults

  • Teaching that Engages: Project and problem-based approach to instruction

  • Technology that Enables: Use of technology for collaboration, access to information, and self-directed learning

  • Outcomes that Matter: Student outcomes for college, career, and civic life readiness

As of the 2016-17 school year, New Tech Network, which demonstrates strong evidence of improved academic and employability skills acquisition, supports nearly 200 elementary, middle, and high schools in 28 states and Australia. The model has been successful in a variety of settings -- urban, suburban and rural, including previously failing schools.

KnowledgeWorks and the Riley Institute believe that the New Tech Network approach is a key to transforming the so-called “Corridor of Shame” into a “Corridor of Innovation” and to transforming communities. The Riley Institute will continue to partner with New Tech to expand the Network throughout the Palmetto State as part of an intentional economic development strategy focused on preparing students for future challenges and opportunities.