Finding Grants for Physical Education

by SPARK


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?

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