Working Together to Educate Our Youth
Thursday, July 15, 2010
By Melissa Luckey
July 2010 (GO Know)
With most schools officially on summer vacation, now is the perfect time for developing projects and mapping out a grant strategy for the coming months. As many grant programs for educational institutions involve significant collaboration, the summer months can provide time for creating relationships and beginning dialogue with potential grant partners.
When it comes to developing projects, there are a variety of community groups that should be considered as primary partners. These include local law enforcement, public health and mental health departments, community and faith based organizations, parent groups, etc. Because the issues effecting the learning environment of students cannot be dealt with by schools alone, any successful project must recognize the need for partnering with these other agencies to respond collaboratively to the needs of the students.
While many educational programs have annual deadlines in the spring, there continues to be programs that are open with deadlines in the coming weeks. One such program is the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). This program provides grants to local educational agencies (school districts) and community-based organizations to initiate or expand physical education programs for K-12 students. The proposed program must help students make progress toward meeting their State’s physical education standards. Successful projects will also involve instruction in good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
Awards will range from $100,000 to $750,000 and approximately 93 new awards will be made in this year’s competition. A 10% match of the total project cost is required in the first year, and a 25% match is necessary for future years. Competitive preference will be given to projects that collect Body Mass Index (BMI) information, as well as those applicants that include a detailed agreement outlining the roles of the various partners in their project. Applications for the PEP program are due by July 19, 2010.
In terms of collaboration under the PEP program, potential grant partners will involve the school, community-based organizations, local public health departments, the district’s food service director and the head of local government. Well-rounded projects under this particular grant may also include the input of pediatricians and nutritionists. A strong tie to the parental organizations at the school and within the larger community is also essential for ensuring that the healthy habits taught within the school environment are integrated into other settings.
In other education news, the U.S. Department of Education recently launched a new website, Data.ed.gov, which serves as a place for the public to access information about the Department’s grant programs. The goal is to provide accessible data about program applications, applicants and their partners, funded projects, etc.
This new effort is part of the Obama Administration’s “Open Government Initiative” and holds promise as it provides increased transparency to the public. Information on the recent ARRA program, Investing in Innovation (i3) is already available. This new database offers a rare opportunity to find other federally-supported projects with relative ease when you are considering potential partners and collaborative efforts. As the website is a pilot effort, the Department is welcoming feedback and plans to make improvements in future months.