What are Innovation Grants?

The Innovation Grant program provides funding of up to $30,000 per award to support the planning and implementation of an innovative school-based project for one to two school years. Innovation is defined as the process of trying something new or different that has the potential to address an identified need and produce better outcomes for students.

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Why Do We Need This?

When MMSD asked more than 2,500 parents, students, educators, and community members for their ideas about what a successful future MMSD graduate looks like and what we want these future leaders to know and be able to do, one quality rose above the rest: innovation. The Madison community is eager for schools and educators to innovate and take risks that have the potential for discontinuous change – an unexpected, sudden leap forward. Discontinuous change, paired with continuous improvement, is critical for the long-term success of our district.

How Will We Achieve This?

Each year, the district awards two Innovation Grants that fund the planning and implementation of school-based projects that establish schools as “laboratories of innovation” in which new approaches are tested and can be shared across the district.

To apply, schools must present a clear, creative and credible vision for an innovative project that aligns with an identified need in the district.

Innovation outcomes are monitored annually and overall impact is reviewed at the completion of the project to determine larger-scale implementation.


Since the program launched in 2014, 9 projects have been funded through the Innovation Grants at multiple high schools, elementary schools, and Central Office departments. The reach has further expanded to the middle school level, with a middle school learning from a project originally funded through the Innovation Grant program, scaling it to meet the needs of their school, and securing funding to replicate the work at their school. The Innovation Grant program has supported a broad range of focus areas including facilitating a shift in school culture away from punitive measures toward restorative practices, engaging families in early learning opportunities for and with their children to establish strong relationships between schools and families before and as students are enrolling at the youngest grade levels, and implementing a new approach to parent teacher conferences that has now been adopted at several other schools.





Thank You to our Generous Supporters


Interested in supporting Innovation Grants?