While the Every Student Succeeds Act makes more federal funding available for qualifying school programs, health and physical education teachers continue to rely on – and seek out – grants to purchase new teaching tools.
For every educator who secures funding for new health and physical education initiative through ESSA, as Irving ISD’s Sandi Cravens did in early 2018, others must seek out other revenue sources.
Everitt (Colo.) Middle School PE teacher Bradley Hull constantly searches for grants that might help him secure funding to add to his school’s PE program. He works closely with the JeffCo Public Schools’ Grants Acquisition and Management Department to identify anything he might apply for.
“The grant department in the district sends out a monthly email,” he said. “Whenever that comes out, the first thing I do is look for the fitness, nutrition and PE grants. Anything that I think I might have a chance for, I apply.”
Hull’s strategy to identify potential funding sources for new initiatives doesn’t stop there. He uses other resources, including:
- Dave Yonkie, JeffCo’s K-12 Physical Education Curriculum Coordinator
- PE and Health teachers at other JeffCo campuses
- PE and Health teachers at networking events including state, national PE conferences
Like Hull, other teachers take a no-stone-left-unturned approach to finding funding. Many, including Brandon Wolff (Maize South Middle School, Kan.) and Jackie Clark (Rock River Intermediate School, Wisc.) applied for grants to help purchase IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors and IHT Spirit System assessment software for their P.E. programs. Their searches proved exhausting but fruitful in the end.
“It took me three years and five grants to land enough money,” Clark said. Clark won grants from:
- Wal-Mart Foundation
- Local Educational Foundation Grant – Shopko Grant
- Action for Healthy Kids Grant
- Fuel Up To Play 60 Grant
- WHPE Grant (Wisconsin Health and Physical Education Grant)
Once Wolff identified the technology he wanted to add to his program, he began the grant application process as well. Like Hull suggested, Wolff applied for a series of grants.
“Seeing what IHT could do with the monitors, we decided that’s definitely the route we wanted to take and we wanted them in our schools,” he said. “The bad part was of course that we didn’t have any money, not enough to get them going in our school. We looked at grants of course. We wrote some grants a couple of years ago and just didn’t get anything.”
Undeterred, he wrote an application for a grant from the Maize Education Foundation, which has given out more than $300,000 to the schools it supports since its creation in 2003. His initial requests went unfunded as well, forcing him to develop what became a community fundraising event known as “Bull Rush.”
Looking to purchase a set of 60 IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors, Wolff – with community support from participants in an expanded Bull Rush – raised nearly $4,000. Then he got some much-appreciated, if not much-delayed, news from the education foundation.
“We also got a grant from the foundation for $7,600,” he said. “It was huge for us.”
And even bigger for the students who are now learning to self-manage their fitness through heart rate training.