The schemes in Oxfordshire and the London borough of Greenwich will take in 15 schools each and have attracted private-sector backing.
The Greenwich bid will link with the Millennium Dome and the Millennium Village school. Major partners include Sir Herman Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Professor Ken Robinson, chair of the national advisory committee on the arts and Sir Bob Scott of Greenwich Millennium.
The Oxford bid also takes in 15 schools and will include the Blackbird Leys estate. It will be backed by the Hamilton Trust, a long-standing supporter of education projects in the county.