Finding and Using Grant Resources to Bolster Your PE Program
When I first started teaching almost two decades ago, I came into a school that had an established physical education budget. Each year, all of the Resource Staff (music, art, PE, media, and computer) turned in a “wish list” to our principal for approval. It was generally accepted that we each had $300-$500 to spend each year. If there was a need for a “big ticket item,” we could make a special request and it would be handled on a case by case basis. Over time, the money started to get a little tighter. Budgets grew smaller and we (the Resource Staff) were encouraged to find other ways to purchase equipment. In physical education, we supplemented some of our funding by hosting a Jump Rope for Heart event each year which helped.
About ten years ago, I decided to try my hand at grant funding and never had to look back. There are many grant opportunities that are available to health and physical educators. Sadly, many teachers do not take the time to apply for grant opportunities. Teachers give lots of reasons for not attempting to complete a grant application;
- I don’t know where to find the grants.
- I don’t have time to complete the grant.
- I have never done a grant before.
- Grant applications are too challenging to complete.
A wise teacher once told me, “you will not win every grant that you apply for, but you will certainly never win a grant if you never apply.” That philosophy has paid dividends over the years. I have definitely not won every grant but the equipment closet at my school has grown and my students have been the beneficiaries of the efforts.
Let’s focus on locations for finding grants. An internet search will help get you started. You can also visit some of the websites below to find health, physical education, and wellness grant opportunities. In many cases, grant applications have gotten more simplistic to encourage participation and competition for each grant. Many state AHPERDs are also trying to find ways to offer grant opportunities as a service to their membership.
As mentioned previously, grant applications have gotten more user friendly to encourage application submissions. That being said, it is very important to put in a little planning time prior to completing an application. Here are some specific things to consider when getting ready to apply for a grant. First, always read the entire grant application. There are many requirements that may influence your decision to move forward with the application (e.g. – matching requirements, non-profit status, certifications or endorsements that are needed, etc.). If your school or school division does not meet those requirements, you will be wasting your time moving forward. Second, once you have reviewed the application, check with your administrative team before continuing. Administrative support is critical when applying for grants. Administrators have a better understanding of school policy and finance. Their knowledge and input can increase your chance of success and ensure that they are on-board. Third, come up with a plan and share it with others. Many of the grants available today have multiple components. The components may include nutrition, physical activity, wellness, etc. If others in your building will be impacted by the grant, make sure you have the support you need to make the grant a success. It is important to remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Fourth, take advantage of “experts” in your building or school district. There may be other teachers in your school or district with previous grant writing experience that can serve as a mentor or help you with a grant proposal. Some districts have grant writers who are a wonderful resource that can provide insight and support. Remember that grant writing is not “easy” and that there are no guarantees to receiving funding, but if you focus on planning and collaboration your chances of success will increase.