The North Carolina State Board of Education has approved 11 grant proposals for 10 public school units that will fund effective digital learning practices in the state’s K-12 public schools.

The competitive grant program is funded by the state and is designed to support North Carolina’s Digital Learning Initiative, which advances the development and dissemination of local innovative digital learning models.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said in a press release that these grants are key to helping North Carolina’s students be better prepared to compete for high-wage, high-demand careers while supporting districts in their effort to adopt new technologies and methods for teaching.

“These grants are a fundamental way to ensure that we are providing supports and resources for digital teaching and learning in North Carolina’s schools,” Truitt said. “If we want our state’s students to have ample opportunity for success after graduation, we must properly equip both students and educators with the tools to succeed and teach in our rapidly evolving, technology-forward world. These grants play a critical role in that effort.”

Vanessa Wrenn, chief information officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), also noted that these grants positively impact a student’s learning experience and better prepare them for the world ahead.

“Technology continues to play a significant role in shaping successful outcomes for students, especially as the workforce continues to be increasingly digitally driven,” Wrenn said. “It is important for students to be well versed in the latest technologies, and the agency is continually impressed by these districts’ innovative approaches to digital learning outlined in their proposals that will ultimately lead to student success.”

Out of the 10 grant awardees, four received Emerging Technology Grants worth up to $50,000. These one-year grants allow districts to use technology and develop more innovative practices within their schools.

The remaining seven awardees received Impact Grants. These grants allow districts to facilitate the development of innovative practices and new digital teaching initiatives. Funding for the Impact Grant is up to $95,000 per public school unit for a total of three years.

The grant initiative was authorized in 2016 by the General Assembly as part of a collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University to advance the state’s Digital Learning Plan. State leaders explained that the goal of the Digital Learning Plan is to develop a long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs