Applications for the second round of i3 grants are due Aug. 2, and grants will be awarded by the end of this year.

The federal government is trying to make it easier to apply for one of its grants for innovative ideas to improve education. But with budget cuts, there’s a lot less money to give away this year.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) gave out $650 million to 49 school districts, charter organization, colleges, universities, and other nonprofit organizations with entrepreneurial ideas for improving the nation’s schools. On June 3, ED announced that there’s $150 million available for the second round of Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants this year.

Nearly 1,700 groups applied for the 2010 grants, which encourage education innovation. Applications are due Aug. 2, and grants will be awarded by the end of this year.

Individual school districts, groups of districts, and nonprofit organizations in partnership with districts or a consortium of schools are invited to apply.

Award amounts have been adjusted in the program’s second year to ensure that applicants have enough funding to carry out their program goals, while enabling ED to fund as many high-quality applications as possible. Grants will be available within the same three categories as in round one:

• Up to $25 million per award will be given for Scale-up grants to applicants with the strongest evidence and track records of success;

• Up to $15 million per award will be given for Validation grants to verify effectiveness for programs with moderate levels of evidence; and

• Up to $3 million per award will be given for Development grants to support new and high-potential practices whose impact should be studied further.