Funding options for new school initiatives including technology can be challenging, but creative teachers continue to find ways to help raise money by advocating for their needs, including staging community events that bring stakeholders together for a common cause.

Last year, IHT launched the IHT Spirit FitFest. FitFest is a “fundraiser in a box” program that helps schools host community-wide events designed to raise awareness for the physical education program and, more directly, money to purchase PE technology including the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitor.

“IHT helps you every step of the way,” said Indian Springs Elementary School PE teacher Tracie Hammond, who organized a FitFest event at her school in 2017. “They set you up with all of your supplies, everything you need to have a successful event.”

funding options

Students team up to finish the race at the HawkNation IHT FitFest at Hendrickson High School.

Tools for Community Showcase

Schools that opt to host a FitFest event receive support that includes the following supplies:

  • Stand-up banners to mark the event;
  • Bibs for participants to wear during race-style events;
  • Prizes for students who bring in the most pledges or funds; and
  • 100 IHT Zone monitors to use during the FitFest.

IHT also provides logistical support along the way, working with the organizing teacher or committee chairman to make sure the event comes off smoothly, and successfully and setting up an online event entry site to track registrations and pledge-raising.

In choosing to hold a FitFest, schools can decide on the type of event that works best in their specific community. At Hendrickson High School outside of Austin, Texas, organizers opted for a weekend community 5K and Kids K accompanied by a health fair. At Indian Springs, Hammond felt an obstacle-course style event during each PE class period would work best.

funding options

A participant visits a trainer at the health fair before the FitFest at Hendrickson High School.

“Parents came and helped throughout the day,” Hammond said. “We had a silent auction for people to bid on so we can raise money to get the heart rate monitors so kids can wear them every day.”

At Hendrickson, the first 100 entrants in the 5K got to wear the IHT Zone heart rate monitors and the fundraising effort proved successful.

“We were able to raise more than our annual PE budget for the high school,” said Hendrickson assistant principal Nikki Dickerson, who also served as the volunteer chairman for the event.

At Indian Springs, each student got to wear a heart rate monitor during their time on the obstacle course. Hammond raised enough money to buy enough heart rate monitors for every PE student to wear in every class.

Accessing Departmental Budgets

Teachers have become adept at exploring every funding opportunity, from the school’s technology budget to local education foundations to community-minded service organizations looking to fund worthwhile causes. The search for funding doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Other funding sources include:

  • Local insurance or health-based industries, who often provide money through direct requests or grant applications;
  • National insurance or health and fitness-based industries, such as NFL Fuel Up to Play 60;
  • School systems have departments tasked with letting teachers know about different local, state and federal grants for which they can apply.

In West Des Moines, Iowa, Brian Rhoads lobbied his administration for funding available through the district’s curriculum budget. He made his case by comparing the heart rate monitors to textbooks and providing the administration with every piece of relevant data on the benefits the heart rate monitors would provide his students, including data on how healthy students are more likely to find academic success.

“We must continue to create awareness of what we are doing to benefit students academically, socially and emotionally, and the like,” Rhoads said. “We have to get that in front of everyone. The community needs to know what’s going on in the program. If you don’t share the information , they won’t know.”

Leaving no stone unturned

Newton, Kansas, teacher Mario Nava hosted community events at both of the elementary schools where he teaches, applied for several grants and even hosted a garage sale to raise enough money to fund his purchase. The effort paid off: Nava raised enough to put IHT Zone monitors on his students at both Sunset and Northridge elementary schools as early as next month.

“They can see how active they were,” Nava said. “It is a learning tool for students to see how important it is to stay healthy and maintain an active lifestyle — not just while you are young but as you get older.”

The study of heart rate – and the academic and health benefits of exercising at an elevated heart rate – continues to grow. Teachers work tirelessly to find funding that allows them to give students access to technology that can set them on the path to a healthy life, and IHT will continue to support them in this endeavor.

Schools interested hosting an IHT Spirit FitFest can contact IHT by email at or phone at 512.522.9354.

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    P.E. teachers leave no stone unturned in quest for new funding
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    P.E. teachers leave no stone unturned in quest for new funding
    Funding for new school initiatives can be challenging, but teachers prove more than willing to go the extra mile to find theirs.
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