Fri, 20 May 2016 fundingAs May progresses and students begin to turn their eyes toward summer vacation, teachers begin focusing on what’s next. What did I do this year that worked well? What do I want to change about my curriculum? Who’s doing something new that would work at my school? How am I going to find the funding for something new?That last question remains the most important one.

As teachers identify new tools – be it a new set of books to read for English, software that augments math or new innovations such as the IHT Zone that helps teachers and students track heart rate levels during physical education – more often than not they need to develop a plan to pay for their new tools.

We outline on our website, under the tutelage of Jen Reeves, IHT’s Director of Funding Services, a number of non-traditional methods to find funding for new tools. Reeves has spent the bulk of the last few weeks helping customers with popular Carol White Physical Education Program (PEP) grants, applications for which were due Friday, May 20.

Grants are key funding sources

PEP grants are but one of the ways physical education teachers can apply for money to fund purchases. Another grant, Fuel Up to Play 60, has a deadline that’s approaching quickly: June 15. Winning applicants receive up to $4,000 to be spent on physical education and healthy eating, as specified in the Fuel Up to Play 60 guidelines. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.

National grants such as PEP And Fuel Up to Play 60 aren’t the only places to look for funding. School systems across the country often have non-profit fundraising arms – local 501(c)3 foundations – who conduct their own fundraising to support school programs. These foundations often offer grants for teachers or departments who have identified resources they’d like but can’t get district funding to purchase.

Another often-successful way to raise money is to stage your own fundraiser. Depending on the type of fundraiser, there could be some extensive logistical work at the front end, but the back-end benefits can often do more than just create money to purchase a new teaching tool.

Create a unique fundraiser

Recently, Maize South Middle School (Kan.) faced a funding challenge to purchase the IHT Spirit System. Physical Education teacher Brandon Wolff worked closely with colleagues and administrators to turn a relatively new event designed to reward students for high achievement into a community fundraiser. While the event – the Bull Rush 5K – raised $3,000 for Wolff’s department, it also created community involvement to support the school’s PE efforts.

“Create fundraisers like this that not only get the students involved but get the parents out here and involved,” advised Maize South Principal Gillian Macias. “We have community members with no relationship to the school willing to volunteer their time. We had companies, free of charge, build us obstacles because they think this is such an amazing event for our students. It really does bring your whole school together.”

Not only did Maize South raise $3,000 toward the purchase of the IHT Spirit System, Wolff also learned that he received a $7,600 grant from the Maize Education Foundation to cover the rest of the cost.

Look to local civic organizations

Still more funding opportunities exist. Civic organizations including Rotary International, Lions, Kiwanis and others are always looking to help out in their communities, as Fosston High School (Minn.) PE teacher Ben Hemberger learned recently. In his search for funding, he appeared at the local Rotary Club meeting – clubs meet weekly all over the world (find your local club here), – and told the members, many of whom are community leaders, about how he wanted to implement the IHT Spirit System. By the time the meeting adjourned, the club had presented the teacher with a check to help his cause.

School may be winding down, but the hard work is far from over. In your search for funding – no matter what you’re hoping to purchase to help teach next year’s classes – leave no stone un-turned. You never know which one will uncover what you need.