Finding grant funding for Physical Education in tough economic times


Paul Rosengard

Across the country, we have seen decreases in funding for Physical Education (PE), yet more and more reporting of issues related to children’s health and obesity.  Research shows schools can play important roles by teaching children how to live healthy lifestyles.  Therefore, it is imperative schools and districts find alternate means to pay for essential programs like PE.  Grants are one viable way schools can supplement funding for their PE programs.  Below, find helpful tips on where to find grants and how to effectively submit one on behalf of your school or district.

Finding the Best Grant for YOU:

There are typically three types of grants schools apply for– federal, state, and local.  The Internet is a great tool to find grants either in your geographical area or available nationally to support the PE project you/your district have in mind.  Once you begin this process, check the grant websites for due dates and deadlines; then sign-up for any newsletters or social marketing networks the website offers.  This will ensure you receive all information concerning new grants.

Good places to find PE grants online:

  • SPARK Grant-Finder for PE (
  • The Foundation Center (
  • Fundsnet (
  • Government (,,
  • NASPE (
  • SchoolGrants (

Once you have identified which grant is the best fit for your district, review the proper wording and the key elements that need to be addressed.  Create a checklist for yourself and make sure you fulfill each requirement before submission.  The entire process may seem overwhelming, but there are concrete things you can do to avoid panicking.

First, ensure everyone in your organization is supportive of the grant you are applying for and what you are trying to accomplish.  It is essential your board agrees with what you are trying to do. Another key is to ensure the grant you selected aligns with the needs of your organization.  The goal of a grant is to implement positive change and you need both board agreement and grant alignment.  Don’t rewrite your project or idea to fit the grant you are applying for.  Rather, find a grant that aligns with your needs.

Submitting your grant:

When submitting your grant, it is always best to include data.  It can be the results of your fitness tests, or the school health index your district completed.  Research helps granting organizations know you and your PE project are serious and understand that data drives outcomes.  Also include any community partnerships you currently have.  Applications are always stronger when they show support from the community and a variety of stakeholders.

The narrative portion of your grant is likely where much of the heavy lifting will occur.  Your narrative section should be clear, concise, and to the point.  Try to identify the changes you anticipate will occur during the life of the grant and how you will recalibrate and move forward.  Be sure to address any problems within your organization that the grant will address and how you will measure the change you anticipate.  A timeline is a great way to show an organization or agency how you will assess and measure change.  When creating a timeline, be sure to spread your activities over a longer period of time than you think is necessary.  It is natural to want to accomplish everything in the first year to show what you are doing and solicit the support of others, but it is more important to execute every step thoroughly and correctly to yield results.

Overall your proposal should be specific, reasonable, realistic, accurate, and flexible.  Include any additional revenue you have and be sure your revenue is consistent with your narrative.  Your budget will show reviewers how you plan to spend the grant money.  Reviewers will focus on your budget so your numbers should show you have done your homework regarding how much everything will cost.  Ensure you do not have all even numbers in your budget, otherwise it could be a red flag to reviewers that you have not looked into the actual costs to achieve the goals of your grant.  Remember, the money you need to spend is to achieve your organization’s goal, so be as accurate and realistic as possible.

Upon completing your grant application be sure to have someone else review it.  This ensures you:  Completed the necessary forms accurately, matched the project funder’s guidelines, and read all the questions carefully.  If you are missing parts of your application, it can lead to your grant submission being glanced over or even dismissed.  Having a second pair of eyes ensures everything prior to submission is accurate and complete.

Follow up with the grant:

After submitting your grant, be sure to save all documents and information.  Applying for a grant is not always a sure thing.  It can take a few submissions before your grant is accepted.  Saving all your previously written grants will save time and effort.  Remember, grant reviewers want to see the need of your target audience and how you will fulfill that need.  By ensuring your application is clear and concise, and by remaining persistent, you can help the students in your school district receive the quality physical education they deserve.

Paul Rosengard is Executive Director of the SPARK Programs and he has worked directly and indirectly on more than 100 grants and special projects in over 30 years as a physical educator.