Archive for the ‘PE Grants’ Category

Our Best Tips to Increase Fundraising

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Happly Teacher Standing in Corridor

As a physical education teacher or administrator, you know that the resources you need to implement new lesson plans and update your curriculum may come with a big price tag.

If you have more students than you planned for or want to incorporate additional equipment and activities that require funding, it’s not too late to raise money for the school year. In fact, now that school is in full swing, you may have more success with your fundraising efforts.

Between innovative solicitations for private donations and grant applications, there are many ways to put some more cash in your coffers. Here are some tips for increasing your fundraising in the new school year.

Making the Most of Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing through websites like GoFundMe, Fund My PE, ACTIVE Schools Fundraising, and Adopt a Classroom is becoming an increasingly popular – and effective – way to raise money for your school. As a physical educator, these websites present an opportunity for you to reach a wide audience of people who are interested in physical fitness. Donations using these types of platforms are becoming more popular, and individual donors appreciate the sense of personal connection they feel to the cause.

Recommendations for creating a successful crowdsourcing page that will inspire donations include:

  • Fill out the page completely. If your page doesn’t have a lot of information on it, potential donors may not be sure if it’s legitimate.
  • Add photos of your gym and/or students (if you can). Putting a personal spin on the page may solicit more donations.
  • Be specific about how you will use the funds. Being transparent about your budget will give people more confidence to donate. You may even offer to follow up with photos of what you buy with the funds.
  • Share the crowdsourcing link on social media, and encourage parents of your students to do the same.

Holding Successful Fundraising Events

Traditional fundraising events are another great way to garner some funds for your PE program. These events offer more face time, so donors can see the teachers and administrators who will benefit – or even the kids themselves.

Once you set a goal for your fundraising and get enough staff and parents committed to helping, you’re ready to brainstorm your efforts. Here are some ideas for creative fundraisers that will draw attention and earn money for your PE classroom:

  • Arrange a parents vs. teachers basketball game or soccer match, and sell tickets.
  • Get a local greenhouse to donate some plants and hold a garden sale.
  • Organize a 5K and ask people to pledge money for every mile students and teachers walk.
  • Partner with a local restaurant that is willing to donate a certain percentage of sales on a particular night to your classroom.

When planning fundraisers, try to keep in mind your goal — to improve the health of your students.  Because of this, you may want to consider not gearing your fundraisers around junk food, like candy bar and cookie dough drives. There are many other options to raise funds for your program that won’t give a conflicting message to your students.

Applying for Education Grants

Government and private grants offer another way to boost your budget for specific equipment or program goals. For PE teachers, the Physical Education Program (PEP) grant is a good option. To improve your chances of success with your application:

  • Start researching the program requirements as soon as possible and put together a needs assessment for your school (one example is the CDC’s School Health Index).
  • Craft a detailed budget and name your grant project.
  • Gather data about your school that establishes the need for funds.
  • Incorporate state standards in your proposal, and show how the grant funds will help you reach them.

The grant writing process can be nuanced, so consider taking a grant writing class or consulting with someone who has experience with PEP grants.

The Bottom Line: It’s All About the Kids

With school already in session, it’s easier to keep student programs top of mind for parents and the surrounding community. Parents want to ensure their kids have access to top notch education, so remind them of how important PE is to a child’s long term wellbeing. Emphasize what you plan to do with the funds raised, and how it will benefit your students. You may be surprised to find how many people are willing to chip in to help.

With the above tips and some perseverance, you can add a chunk of change your school’s PE piggy bank. Don’t despair if your efforts don’t raise quite as much as you hoped — get creative to make the most of the funds you do have. A little extra budget can go a long way, enabling you to add brand new equipment or activities to support your students’ health and wellness this school year.

East St. Louis School District 189 – PEP Grant Case Study

Friday, October 7th, 2016

East St Louis Blog pic 1

Putting Some PEP in Their Step

The East St. Louis School District didn’t have much of a PE program in its elementary schools; in fact, for over five years, it didn’t have any PE at all. Budget cuts and limited local funding for a school with a 100% free and reduced lunch rate led to the cutting of PE, which did not serve to improve an already high obesity rate among students. Things were about to change for the better in 2014 when the district applied for, and won, the Carol M. White PEP Grant.

East St. Louis School District 189 was in great need of evidence-based programming to transform their near non-existent PE program and student health statistics into an active, thriving, healthy program and student population. When they won the two-year grant, they sparked transformation right away in Year 1. Working with Cassie Wolvington, Sportime featuring SPARK Sales Representative, they ordered:

  • SPARK Curriculum Materials for K-12 Physical Education and After School,
  • Healthy Kids Challenge Nutrition Curriculum Materials for K-8
  • 5 Premium SPARK trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School
  • Modified Sportime equipment sets for K-12 and After School
  • Accusplit pedometers to track steps for grant reporting

To implement the new curriculum, training, and equipment, the district used PEP funding to hire four competent, creative, and energetic PE teachers.

Keeping up the positive momentum in Year 2, the district ordered:

  • Additional Curriculum Materials and Physical Education Equipment
  • SPARK Booster Trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School

Impressed with the great customer service and personal attention provided to them by their Sportime featuring SPARK Representative, they ordered an additional $145K worth of equipment.

Boys Track & Field Head Coach and PEP Grant Director Barry Malloyd commented on the experience, “Our district’s experience with SPARK has been life-changing for our PE teachers, students and parents. There is now a SPARK in our physical education programs like never before. The SPARK curriculum and trainings have provided our district with a SPARK of hope. The supplies, equipment, curriculum, trainings, and webinars that you provided us have catapulted our district’s PE program into the 21st Century. Our district administrators, PE teachers, students, and parents have given our PEP program a standing ovation because of our students’ drastic improvements in all areas of the GPRA Measures. It’s because of this SPARK that our district has some ‘PEP IN OUR STEPS!’”

Mr. Malloyd continued, “The benefits that our district is most excited about are the Fall and Spring SPARK trainings given to all of our district PE teachers and after school partners.  Also, the awesome supplies and equipment that you provide has made PE once again fun, exciting, and relevant in our school district. I could not and would not ever ask for another provider other than SPARK.”

From having no PE program to sparking a thriving, healthy, active PE program that is the envy of peer school districts – now that is a success story! Congratulations East St. Louis School District 189!

To learn more about the SPARK and PEP grant, click here.

East St Louis Blog pic 4

Finding Grants for Physical Education

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Finding funding for any school activity can be a challenge. Many teachers and faculty find themselves searching for grants to fill in the gaps that their original budgets cannot fill. Applying for a grant takes a lot of forethought, planning, and research, but obtaining a grant can be key to receiving the funding you need to provide for your students.

grant writing

Before You Start Writing Your Grant Request

Look at What You Already Have and How to Improve

Completing a “Needs Assessment” of your school should be the first step in determining what you have available. Doing this can show you problems that need fixing and can highlight resources that you can build on. For example, if your school is a rural area, you might not have specific sports equipment other schools will have. However, if your area has nature trails or hiking areas, you can build upon those resources to suit your needs.  During your research into what you have, ask yourself what you want to see happen and how you will know you achieved what you wanted.

Research Available Grants in Your State

Each state has different charitable trusts and programs for education.  It’s a good idea to do some preliminary research about what is out there for the kind of goals you have in mind. There are several sites that can give you a head start on finding funds, such as this list from the SPARK Grant Finder. You can also check with your state’s Department of Education for more local opportunities.

Plan Ahead

Between research, planning, and setting a timeframe, grants take a lot of time to prepare.  Some companies provide rolling grants where there is no submission deadline, but most have one or two deadlines per year.  Give yourself plenty of time for gathering your materials, organizing a theoretical timeframe, and writing (and rewriting) your actual grant proposal. Another issue to remember is that each provider might have different rules for how they want a grant to look, so consider asking them for a sample proposal to use as a guideline.

Find out What Others Have Done

Effective grant writers are able to show that what they are proposing has been done and will be an effective use of an organization’s money. Consider finding other schools that have done what you are planning to do and use them as examples in your research.

You can also use information from other sources to guide your ideas. For example, if you find research showing a relationship between physical activity and behavior, you can use that to support your claims. The key here is to be able to demonstrate that your idea has backing and will be worthwhile use of funds. Seeing what other people have done can also give you guidance in how to address your issues.

Combine With Other Classes

More and more educators are using information from other classes to create a holistic learning environment. This means you might benefit from teaming up with other educators. For example, if you want to integrate health technology such as fitness trackers, you can pool resources and ideas with a computer science instructor.  Working with other educators can help all of you learn new ways of engaging students.

Look For Smaller Grants

While federal grants will most likely be larger awards, applying for these grants means you are competing against educators from all over the country. This doesn’t mean you should not apply for the larger grants, but being aware of the volume can help you prepare more thoroughly. In addition, applying for several smaller grants can help you practice writing for grants, which can help you provide more effective grant writing in the future.

When You Write the Grant

Use Help

If you have access to professional grant writers, either through your school or your district, use them. They can give you valuable guidance in what you need to have and how to package it for your grant application.  They can also help you avoid using too much jargon or industry language.  This will keep your proposal clear and easy to follow.

Show What Others Have Done

All of that research is important here. Stats, percentages, comparisons—all of that specific information helps the grant committees get a more concrete sense of what you want to do.  Statistics are what transforms your abstract goal into something that can be measured and evaluated.  Remember that writing a grant is like giving a pitch—you want to prove that you can show your ideas are a good investment.

Be Specific in What You Will Do and What Will Happen

Organization is important when you write your grant. In a grant, you need to show every specific step and every outcome. Even if something seems basic to you, it may not be as obvious to where you are applying for a grant. The goal in writing a grant is to have a document that anyone could read and they would know exact what your goals are, how you want to achieve them, why your methods will work, who is doing what, and how long the process takes. There are sample proposals to look at for guidance, but keep in mind that specific agencies and programs may have specific wording or formatting requirements. SPARK also has an outline that is a good starting tool for most grants.

Have you ever written a grant for funding? What surprised you about the process?

SPARK Joins Forces with KIDS in the GAME, ICAN Foundation and Supporting Organizations to Combat Rising Issues of Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Latest collaboration supports Mississippi school with curriculum development, teacher training and equipment aimed at promoting high-quality physical education and nutrition programs that address student health needs

GREENVILLE, Wis., August 18, 2015SPARK™, the premier physical education brand of School Specialty (OTCQB: SCOO), is pleased to announce its exciting collaboration with KIDS in the GAME, the ICAN Foundation and other supporting organizations including GoNoodle, Play Like A Girl and Hip Hop Public Health to counter childhood obesity through the promotion of active and healthy living. Inspired by a school counselor’s passion to implement change in her classroom and community, SPARK recently teamed-up with KIDS in the GAME and ICAN Foundation to provide the Oakhurst Intermediate School in Clarksdale, Mississippi with much-needed resources to develop a comprehensive physical education and health program.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Mississippi leads the country in obesity rates, with about 32.5 percent of its adult residents considered obese – based on a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, which translates to more than 197 pounds on a 5’8″ person. Further, in “The State of Obesity” report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the state ranks #3 in the U.S. for type 2 diabetes.

This past spring, SPARK’s Executive Director Dr. Kymm Ballard, learned about a school counselor named Lisa Ross who singlehandedly started a fitness program for girls in the Mississippi Delta. Fondly known as ‘Pizzazz Ross’, Lisa created Si Se Puede at Oakhurst Intermediate School to encourage her female students to increase their physical activity and develop new, healthy eating habits.

Her enthusiasm and willpower to effect change despite the lack of financial resources, inspired Dr. Ballard to reach out and encourage Lisa to apply for a PHIT America GO! Grant administered by KIDS in the GAME. The grant would be instrumental in expanding Lisa’s vision for the entire school by incorporating the SPARK program into Oakhurst’s school day.

With the support of Principal Frederick Ford, Lisa applied for the grant, which was given significant consideration as part of a collaborative approach by KIDS in the GAME and SPARK. Together, Executive Director Suzie Nixon of KIDS in the GAME and Dr. Ballard helped Oakhurst with utilizing a $5,000 GO! Grant to catalyze interest from supporting organizations, including:

  • ICAN Foundation, which covered the cost of training and transportation for Lisa Ross and colleague, Gisha Stewart, to receive training this summer at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute in San Diego. The Foundation is also assisting Oakhurst with the purchase of Sportime fitness equipment.
  • GoNoodle, which has Oakhurst Intermediate School students moving throughout the day with its interactive physical activity breaks — running, jumping, dancing, stretching and deep-breathing — is helping to improve student behavior, focus and academic performance.
  • Play Like A Girl, which is supporting the Si Se Puede program with consultation and programming, including their model Pop-Up Play Day slated for the spring of 2016.
  • Hip Hop Public Health, which is dedicated to promoting healthier food choices and smart exercise through online cartoons, video games, comic books, and music by popular hip hop artists.

KIDS in the GAME’s Suzie Nixon remarked, “The intention of our growing collaboration with SPARK and other partners such as ICAN Foundation, GoNoodle, Play Like A Girl, and Hip Hop Public Health is to raise awareness of the excellent resources available to increase minutes of daily physical activity among youth, particularly in the south. The need to counter obesity and inactivity is propelling local agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations and others across the country to combine forces to support all children in increasing their physical literacy and minutes of movement – in other words, their desire, confidence and ability to be physically active every day.”

“We’re honored to be joining forces with KIDS in the GAME and ICAN Foundation to help reverse the childhood obesity trend and promote lifelong wellness among our youth,” said Dr. Kymm Ballard for School Specialty’s SPARK. “We’re especially excited to work with the Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi to integrate a proven, highly effective physical education program like SPARK into their curriculum. The school’s efforts to make a positive impact on the health of their student body and by extension, the surrounding community, through meaningful activity, fitness and nutrition, are admirable! With the generous sponsorship of ICAN Foundation, it was wonderful to host Ms. Ross and Ms. Stewart at this summer’s SPARK 3-6 PE workshop in San Diego, and we trust that the experience and insights gained will prove valuable to the Oakhurst program.”

SPARK provides evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Each SPARK program is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction. The SPARK 3-6 PE Institute, which was developed through San Diego State University and originally funded by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is designed to be more inclusive, active, and fun than traditional PE classes. Aligned with the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) National Standards, SPARK PE lessons are easy to learn and easy to teach. They have been proven to work with both elementary physical education specialists and classroom teachers.

The alliance between ICAN Foundation and SPARK has been invaluable with regards to providing options to schools to make classes, PE and after-school programs more active. Together, the organizations work to raise funds and support the implementation of the SPARK physical education curriculum in local schools. The most recent assistance received from ICAN to enable Ms. Ross’ and Ms. Stewart’s travel to San Diego this summer to participate in training at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute was very instrumental. ICAN’s founder and NFL running back, Pierre Thomas, saw the need and stepped up to help the two teachers from Oakhurst Intermediate School. In addition, Mr. Thomas and the foundation are donating content-matched equipment from School Specialty’s Sportime line to help Oakhurst increase students’ activity time.

Mr. Thomas underscored, “ICAN Foundation was created to build a healthier generation of young people by encouraging them to become more active and educating them on proper nutrition. We have assembled a strong team at ICAN and we work well together to have an impact in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Illinois. Our partnership with SPARK has been a tremendous help and we are excited to implement the SPARK programs. We look forward to growing and making a difference together.”

“We’re committed at Oakhurst Intermediate to building a culture of activity and fitness which we believe are critical to tackling the obesity issue and increasing our students’ ability to succeed not just academically but socio-economically, by preparing them to be healthy, productive members of their communities in Mississippi,” said School Counselor, Lisa Ross. “Physical education has a significant place in a school’s curriculum, which is why our team is so thrilled to integrate the SPARK PE program. My colleague Gisha Stewart and I are grateful for the opportunity given to us to attend the summer training sessions at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute in San Diego. It was a wonderful experience and we learned so much in terms of techniques and best practices which will be instrumental for developing the SPARK syllabus at Oakhurst.”

Lisa Ross, school counselor for Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi.

Lisa Ross, school counselor for Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi.

About KIDS in the GAME

KIDS in the GAME is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on inspiring kids to thrive in life through sports. The organization provides financial assistance to help youth from low-income families of all abilities gain access to after school sports programs and physical education programs in schools. KIDS in the GAME raises awareness of the importance of athletics in developing future leaders, with skills and values that transfer from the sports field into the classroom, workplace, family and community. For more information on KIDS in the GAME, visit

About the SPARK Programs

SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. For more information about School Specialty, visit

PE Grant Guide

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Once budget season rolls around, it’s very common for educators and administrators to hold their breath.

Unfortunately, PE is often one of the first departments to get cut from the budget in dire situations—unless you can do either of two things: secure grant funding that ensures not only your program’s existence, but its vitality and success; and create a PE environment that uses few financial resources, reducing its visibility in the budget.

Below, you’ll find examples of both. First, we’ll look at two grants that can help your school or organization come up with the funds it needs to provide quality education to youth.

Next, we’ll look at an example of the kind of PE program you should implement to greatly increase your chances of landing a grant, even if that grant isn’t specific to PE. Many programs are free to join and cost very little.

After all, there is a veritable treasure trove of research out there that proves how helpful physical activity is when it comes to learning, retention, and comprehension. A solid PE program could have your underperforming school turned around before you know it.

Innovative Ideas Challenge

  • Highlights: $4 million available, deadline to apply: September 1, 2012

The California Endowment, a private statewide health foundation, has offered up to $4 million in funds to organizations across California through the Innovative Ideas Challenge (IIC). If your organization is not already under the umbrella of the Building Healthy Communities plan, this grant will get you out of the rain.

The California Endowment seeks to “support innovators who can rapidly engage in work that will promote fundamental health improvements in the health status of all Californians. This can be through new ventures or expansions of already existing efforts. Special attention will be paid to proposals that are public/private partnerships.”

This program will reward your organization based on new, creative, and successful ideas related to reversing childhood obesity in California and improving the wellness of our youth.

Race to the Top

  • Highlights: Potentially billions of dollars available, split among states and further split among individual organizations as decided by states.

Race to the Top provides billions of dollars to states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Money is awarded to states that have “success in raising student achievement and have the best plans to accelerate their reforms in the future.”

Once you find out if your state has been awarded grant money, ensure your organization’s vision aligns with the following criteria, according to the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Makes substantial gains in student achievement.
  • Closes achievement gaps.
  • Improves high school graduation rates.
  • Ensures student preparation for success in college and careers.
  • Implements ambitious but achievable plans.

Once Race to the Top funds are disseminated to states, you must contact your individual state department of education to find out application deadlines and requirements.

Of course, there are many, many more grants available for your school or organization.

Now, here’s an example of a PE program that’s easy to implement, and comes with the backing of private and public entities.

Fuel Up to Play 60

  • Highlights: Free to join. Rewards and prizes are available for various challenges. While not technically a grant, up to $4,000 per year in funding is available for qualifying K-12 schools enrolled in the program.

This partnership of the National Football League (NFL) and the National Dairy Council (NDC) also works with the United States Department of Agriculture to encourage kids to eat healthily and play for an hour each day.

This program is free for K-12 schools and for students to join. Fuel Up to Play 60 offers the kind of program that many grant-giving organizations (including IIC and Race to the Top) want to see implemented in your organization.

From their website: “Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools and inspiring their friends to do the same.”

The program uses the Internet to encourage students and schools to meet challenges and track their progress online. It’s a way individuals, entire classrooms, and even entire school districts can work together for the well-being of kids, tweens, and teens.

Schools can apply for funding through the program, and students/schools can win prizes for accomplishments along the way.

Next Steps

In order to put your organization in the best possible position to grab your share of grant funding, you’ve got to show that you’re on the right path to positive change and long-term success; think proactive vs. reactive. Our website has tons of resources and information about how to set your organization on the right path, and feel free to contact us for help!