The Synectics Education Initiative's bid, which involves 12 schools in Aylesbury, has backing from British Telecom, the Equitable Life, Ginn publishers and the local authority. It aims to promote open-minded, cooperative and flexible thinking in pupils.
Vincent Nolan, director of the charity, stepped in because Buckinghamshire, thinking itself too affluent to be a zone, did not bid for Government cash.
He said: "According to a health authority report on this part of the county, the index of social deprivation is high. There are numbers of children at risk, badly-behaved children, cases of arson and fighting in playgrounds.
"We want to look at an innovative way to involve the whole of the community. It will be a different approach to problem-solving, learning how to identify the sorts of behaviour which will lead to success and unblock those with negative attitudes."
Synectics - innovative teamwork skills - were invented in the 1950s in the US and later adopted by British educational psychologists. SEI talks of promoting "win-win teamwork throughout the education system". Educational psychologists run its synectics courses and its motto is: "Everything we do is common sense, but it is seldom common practice."
Sheelagh Duffy, head of Oak Green middle school, said members of her staff have already been trained in synectics: "The area may not be as deprived as inner London, but our results should be better. The kids are lovely and deserve it."
She said that the bid should be the sort of innovative approach favoured by Labour. Even if the bid fails, the group will continue to work together.
The bid is likely to have support from a top Government adviser. Earlier this year Tim Brighouse, chief education officer of Birmingham, advocated more use of "right-brain" management techniques.