Writing a Successful PEP Grant
Tips from NASPEís PEP Grant
Session in San Diego
Written by the PELINKS4U Staff
One of the most popular sessions at the 2002 AAHPERD Convention was a
presentation by last yearís PEP grant recipients. A packed room of PEP hopefuls
listened intently as their colleagues shared grant-writing tips. The following
article summarizes their suggestions.
How to Begin the Grant Writing Process
- Begin early! Rather than wait
for the publication of PEP grant guidelines start a "Needs Assessment"
in your district immediately and begin developing a proposal strategy.
- Surround yourself with others
who are interested in program development and positive about change.
- Look for community
partnerships. Task forces will assist and help to sustain the grant.
Consider inviting the medical community.
- A key question to ask is
"What do you want to see as a result of the grant?" and
"How will you know when you have succeeded?" Have a vision. If
your goal is to initiate change and move towards a "new" PE
program it is important to explain how you plan to achieve this transition
in your application.
- Involve a professional grant
writer if available especially someone with experience writing federal
grants. Enjoy the advantage of faster access to essential information.
School districts who have professional grant writers typically have on
file the type of information that federal grants require. Federal grant
guidelines can be complex. Grant writers skilled in writing federal grants
can quickly resolve questions.
- Be sure to involve teachers
in all early discussions because they will be the agents of change.
- Keep in mind that successful
grant writing involves a combination of skill and luck!
Choosing a Project Title
While a "catchy" project title may not be the decisive factor in
any grant application it may help reviewers to remember your proposal ahead of
others that they review. Hereís a sample from last yearís successful PEP
- Project Inshape
- PE for Progress
- 21st Century PE
- Project Health Smart
- Fit for the Future
- Fitness Education: The Shape
of things to Come
Developing a Budget
- Working closely with your
district Business Office to ensure that proper rates, overheads etc., are
included in your budget.
- Be sure to include funds in
your grant to administer the grant. Although most teachers are concerned
that funds are devoted to purchases that affect their students it is a
mistake to ignore the need for someone to administer the grant.
- Carefully consider what you
plan to do. What will be the cost and be sure the expenses in your
proposed budget match what you are proposing to do. Look carefully at your
proposal and highlight any items that appear in the proposal that are NOT
reflected in the budget.
- Contact and talk to the
vendors you propose to use. Because information will be needed in a timely
fashion, it is important to work with companies you trust and can rely
Establishing the Need for the Grant
- Use any unique data that
your school district has been collecting in your grant application. For
example, in 2001 one district had data that showed students of color and
low income had significantly higher levels of obesity and health problems.
Another district had data suggesting a positive correlation between
physical activity, obesity, and increased behavioral problems. Does your
state have any unique data? Wisconsin for example had its "Wisconsin
Indicators for School Health." This data showed a state increase in
obesity among children ages 2-5.
- Use the Presidentís
Challenge, Fitnessgram, Physical Best, or other fitness data that your
district has probably accumulated. from years of physical fitness testing
- Use national research and
statistics to support your application. The Center for Disease Control
(CDC) is a good starting point for national data. The "School Health
Index" and the "Youth Risk Behavior Survey" are especially
useful. National data is helpful to supplement an absence of any local
- Look to professional
literature (JOPERD, TEPE, etc.) for supporting evidence. Search web sites
such as PE Central and PELINKS4U for news reports, articles, and other
published data that supports the goals of your grant proposal.
- Be sure to include in your
application a plan to collect pre- and post project data so that you can
show the changes that occur as a result of your grant.
How to Incorporate State and National Standards
- Show in your proposal that
you are aware of, and plan to work towards local (state) and national
- If appropriate explain how
you are endeavoring to transform your curriculum from traditional activity
offerings to those being promoted as part of the "new" physical
- One way to ease this
transition is to consider building standardized instructional units with
guidelines that all teachers will follow.
- Be sure to write the
appropriate standards into your instructional units so that all teachers
are reminded of your goals and the assessments you plan to implement.
- Consider involving other
closely related disciplines such as health and nutrition, as well as
opportunities for broader interdisciplinary cooperation.
Collecting Assessment Data
- Districts close to higher
educational institutions should consider inviting faculty to assist with
the data collection planned for the grant especially if there is a desire
to publish the findings.
- A key is looking at where you
are and where you want to be, then selecting the type of data you need to
collect to illustrate this transition.
- Remember that long-term
measures are probably necessary to see any changes in behaviors over the
period of the grant.
- Consider collecting more than
just fitness data. Evidence showing changes in behavior should be
- Successful PEP recipients
reported that the networking they have experienced through attending
workshops and professional development events helped to prepare them for
the grant. Make use of your colleagues within and outside your district
- AAHPERD offers valuable
resources such as National Standards, Developmentally Appropriate PE
Guidelines, and Physical Activity Guidelines. Use them!
- Research the information
available through the CDC for health/activity data.
- Have your grant reviewed by
an experienced federal grant writer especially if you did not have an
experience grant writer assist in developing the proposal.
Barriers to Overcome
- Understanding the language of
the proposal. This is where someone experienced in federal grant writing
can prove invaluable
- Need to attend to how the
proposal will fit into your school districtís priorities. A supportive
school district is essential.
- Time is a constant challenge
especially if you already have a full time job. Grant writing demands a
high level of commitment.
- Lack of resources to support
your requests. This is where faculty expertise can be of assistance if you
have a higher educational institution nearby.
What Would Teachers Do Differently Next Time?
- Start as early as possible
rather than wait until grants are announced. You will not have as much
time as you anticipate for writing the grant.
- Endeavor to put together a
strong, representative grant writing team because this will help to move
the grant forward.
- Ask yourself who in your
community has grant writing experience
- Be sure to allocate time (and
the associated budgetary costs) in your plan for teachers to meet, plan,
and discuss the progress of the project once it begins.
- Be sure to consider all of
the people whose skills or knowledge will be needed. It is easy to
overlook people who will be involved in budgeting and administering the
grant. Involve the major players earlier!
- If you specifically name the
items and vendors you want it may be possible to avoid time-delaying
- Be sure to include in your
proposal the equipment needed for data gathering and analysis, for
example, laptop computers, PDAs, and also allocate funds to support
- When you think you have a
good proposal invite others to read it and ask them to highlight anything
that needs clarifying or items that you may have left out that have
- Having or developing skills
in grant writing is helpful.
- Luck is part of the
process but never doubt that you can be successful!
- Remember that grant
reviewers are not necessarily experienced physical education teachers. It
is important to write specifically to the grant criteria.
Plan to Use Your PEP Grant to Support Future Grants
- Build in the capacity to
continue your grant if opportunities exist.
- Remember that this PEP grant
may serve to spin off additional grants because participants will begin to
think differently and see other opportunities
- Monitor that the data you
planned to take is being appropriately recorded and systematically
Characteristics of the 2001 PEP Grant Recipients
Summarized below are some of the characteristics of last year's successful
applications. Be sure to remember that the ideas presented are from many
- "Project Inshape"
presented the premise that quality PE would improve academic performance.
- The "PE for
Progress" proposal established a unique urban and rural partnership.
Its primary goal was simply to increase the time spent in PE by
emphasizing that fitness was an individual rather than group
- A program in Massachusetts
was designed to combat childhood obesity. It proposed to increase
professional development opportunities for PE teachers and train
paraprofessionals to implement physical activity opportunities into the
school day. A community outreach program was also included.
- Many schools used this grant
to increase limited supplies of equipment and especially technology.
Typically, these requests were accompanied by plans to transform the
curriculum and offer different activities.
- In the Washington DC
environment where 93% of the school population consisted of African
American and Hispanic students, a desire was expressed to create a
database of student fitness scores.
- Several districts used the
grant to introduce opportunities for increased authentic assessment and
student portfolios. Assessment was a critical component of all grant
- In the "21st Century
PE" grant each school proposed to create a PEP team that included a
teacher, parent, counselor, and community member. A 1/2-time project
coordinator was included.
- One school brought in a
team from "Project Adventure" and focused on meeting the needs
of inner city children.
- In the "Fit for the
Future" proposal efforts were made to coordinate a health and fitness
program between elementary, middle, and high schools. Purchasing heart
rate monitors and pedometers was an important part of the grant
- One proposal, written
entirely by three physical education teachers, focused on transforming the
district curriculum from a focus on team and individual sports to fitness
and lifetime activities.
- A California district
proposed aligning their curriculum with the state standards. To do so they
offered workshops that teachers would be paid to attend and in return
receive the equipment needed to change their curriculum.
- Columbus public schools
worked cooperatively with Ohio State University faculty to introduce a
curriculum focused on Tactical Games, Sports Education, teaching
Responsibility, Inclusion, and the use of new technology.
This information is provided to you
courtesy of PELINKS4U
"Today's Physical Education