Monday, August 31, 2009

Money for the asking: writing small grants for physical education.(Editorial).

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It is abundantly clear that public school budgets will decrease in the near future due to the current state of the nation's economy. For many physical education teachers, this means that their budgets too will shrink, affecting their curriculum, their teaching, and student learning. If you are among this group of teachers, this information on grant writing is intended for you.

My comments and suggestions result from working with physical education teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in four separate counties in Northern Virginia. These teachers are enrolled in a graduate curriculum-and-instruction program with an emphasis in physical education. I began the grant-writing assignment in their first course, "Analysis of Teaching," in part to establish the fact that money is readily available to teachers for the asking. They just need to know how to ask for those monies. I presented a process for them to search for sources of small grants, defined generally as a range of $400 to $5,000. For these teachers, this money would fulfill a need in their curriculum and provide innovation in their instruction for K-12 students.

Getting Started

I began by inviting the evaluator of teacher grants at the local county school system to our class in the fall of 2007. This session catapulted teachers to begin an analysis of curriculum needs and innovative solutions for advancing their students' learning. The presenter provided sample copies of small IMPACT II grants and other local sources for teacher funding. In our case, this county-grants person was most helpful in paving the way for the future success of these teachers. Bowers (2005) and Davis (2006) provided electronic resources as well. Once ideas were generated and discussed, each teacher identified his or her individual funding source. The next step for these novice grant writers was to narrow their proposal ideas and identify a single funding source. This process occurred over the next several weeks as teachers' obtained appropriate grant applications electronically, examined the information required, and began writing.

Learning the Basics

Each teacher was required to develop an innovative idea that would stimulate and excite student learning. Sound benefits for students were required along with meeting their individual county's program of study and the state standards of learning for physical education. The teachers responded by drafting the grant application as clearly and succinctly as possible. Over a series of classes, we listened to one another's ideas, asked questions, provided constructive feedback, challenged ideas, and edited proposals several times. The teachers were required to develop specific objectives and strategies for reaching their goals, along with details regarding how many students would benefit and how they would benefit from the grant money, how lessons would be disseminated, and how maximum student practice would be achieved. The teachers also researched references showing the benefit of the selected activities. Most of the grant applications sought new equipment to expand curriculum offerings for increasing some aspect of students' motor skills or fitness levels. Of course, describing how the teacher planned to assess student learning and improvement was a key factor in the grant-writing process. During this process, I encouraged teachers to identify and contact the grant specialist in their respective counties for assistance and additional ideas on funding sources. Teachers found that it was not easy to follow grant-writing guidelines exactly (Bowers, 1990), therefore, my close examination of each grant application enabled the best product for submission. Deadlines for grant submissions varied depending on the funder, so teachers were expected to submit the final copy of their proposal for a graded evaluation in order to meet the course requirements. Also, they were urged to submit the application, which might be due several months later, and contact me upon receiving the funder's decision.

Unexpected Consequences

Naturally, teachers discussed their grant proposals with their respective principals. This brought attention to their curricular needs and teaching goals, and in a few cases the principal was willing to fund the grant proposal on the spot, enabling the teacher to alter the grant content to advance the first proposal or to accomplish additional curriculum goals. These physical education teachers also talked with other teachers in their schools who had received grants and shared information about the process. This was a new role for these teachers, who received recognition for taking on the challenge of grant writing. The lesson learned was to share what they were doing with other teachers and supervisors in the school and within the county to gain their help and, ultimately, their recognition.

For these teachers, another unexpected consequence of writing grants was actually having them funded! One teacher stated, "I have to say that (grant) was the first project anyone has ever paid me to do!" By the spring term of 2008, nearly all students from my two fall classes of 2007 were taking their final course in the physical education concentration," Supervision and Mentoring in Physical Education," with me as their instructor. This presented a great opportunity to follow up on funding outcomes. Of the 11 teachers, six were awarded a total of about $10,000 for a biking program, Speed Stacks, fitness equipment, and dance-for-fitness technology. Some proposals were for the same choice of equipment. Only two proposals were rejected and both teachers planned to resubmit. The remaining three teachers did not submit their grants because they were moving out of state, changing schools to another county, or simply choosing not to submit at this time. The excitement and pride among the group was as great for the teacher who received a $371 grant as the one with a $5,000 grant. Ultimately, funding sources included an equipment company, a parent-teacher organization, a local credit union, and a state department of transportation office. The boost of confidence among the group was terrific to see. Those who did not receive funding or did not submit a proposal saw the success of their peers, and it will only be a matter of time before they, too, will become funded grant writers.

Six Steps for Writing a Grant Proposal

How does this experience transfer to eager teachers who are willing to try grant writing? You can apply some of the same steps that we used.

1. Generate innovative curriculum ideas reflecting the needs and interests of your students. Also, consider which of their motor and fitness needs can be enhanced by your idea.

2. Talk with your designated county grant specialist, whose job it is to assist teachers in writing grants. Seek out teachers in physical education and in other fields who have received small grants and are willing to help.

3. Start locally. Go to your state department of education physical education directors and your state AHPERD leaders with your grant ideas and seek sources of grants specifically for teachers.

4. Search the web for funding sources in your local area. You will be surprised at the retail and credit unions that provide money to address childhood obesity and physical inactivity.

5. Once you decide on a funding source, obtain their application and answer questions exactly as requested. Have others edit your application for clarity and content.

6. Meet the submission deadline, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate your beginning as a grant writer.


Bowers, L.(2005). Physical educators' guide to successful grant writing. Reston, VA: National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Johnson, L.& Lamb, A. (2007).

Teacher taps: Grants and grant writing. Retrieved, June 15, 2008, from

Davis, B. (2006). Writing a successful grant proposal. Retrieved June 15,2008, from

--G. Linda Rikard ( is an associate professor in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism at George Mason University in Manassas, VA 20110, and a member of the JOPERD Editorial Board.

Source Citation:Rikard, G. Linda. "Money for the asking: writing small grants for physical education.(Editorial)." JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 79.6 (August 2008): 3(3). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 31 Aug. 2009

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