Are You Ready to Apply?
Thinking about applying for a grant to fund Polar products and services and improve your program? Great! Before you begin working on an application, review the five questions below to ensure you are ready to begin pursuing grant funding for your physical activity program.
Grants are extremely competitive. Most programs make awards to just 5-10% of applicants, and some programs make awards to an even smaller percentage of applicants. Your application is more likely to be competitive if you've taken some key steps to prepare to apply before beginning to develop your grant application.
1. Do you have building and district-level administrative permission and support to apply for grants for physical activity and nutrition programs?
You can’t apply for grants without administrative support and permission. If you don’t have both now, your first step should be to work on obtaining them as quickly as possible. Nearly all grant applications require the organization (not the individual contact) to be the official applicant. You will need administrator signatures on your application documents evidencing their permission to apply and approval of the application. Additionally, once funding is received, administrative support will be critical to ensuring smooth and complete project implementation and organization compliance with funder rules and requirements.
2. Can you show need?
When considering grants for physical activity and nutrition education programs, socio-economic demographics can be important, but the ability to provide other data (like poor fitness testing, BMI, or behavior survey results) is also very important. If you don't have this kind of information on hand now for at least a representative portion of your target population, you need to work on gathering it prior to trying to apply for a grant.
Note that if your school has a significant amount of equipment in good condition, a fairly up-to-date and comprehensive physical education (PE) program, and/or resources available to students that extend their physical activity opportunities outside of PE, you might not be able to show as much need as schools without those things. Clear need is critical to obtaining grant funding.
If you've received grants in the past and are looking to receive more grant funding, your biggest challenge will likely be to continue to show enough new or remaining need to make a compelling case.
3. Are you interested in funding for a project that includes more than just Polar products and services?
While we certainly want Polar products and services to play an important role in your grant project, we know that a comprehensive approach to addressing your local needs is more likely to be competitive than an application that is essentially just requesting funding for assessment tools. Take a look at what you need and apply a broad-based approach to your project design. If you feel strongly that you want to focus solely on Polar products and services, consider that other types of fundraising (outside of grants) may be better matches for your current focus.
4. Are you planning or willing to include project activities that extend outside of the school day?
While there are some grants for which this is not necessary, for many physical activity and nutrition education-focused grants available now, a school will have difficulty being competitive without including something outside of the school day. Typically, you can use grant funds to support these activities, so don't be discouraged if your organization does not have cash on hand to offer to support them. Also, keep in mind that these types of activities could be provided by the applicant and/or a community partner. If your organization is not in a position to offer out-of-school time programs, seek out a partner able to in order to include this important project component.
If you and your partners absolutely cannot offer anything outside of the school day, consider what other very unique project component you might include to entice the funder. Keep in mind that for most funders, adding something to your program that is unique to just your organization or even your region--but may not be unique compared to other areas of the country--may not be enough, especially if you are applying to a funder covering multiple states or offering a nationwide program. Think big, and aim for truly unique and innovative.
5. Do you have any community partners that could participate in the project to help enhance achievement of goals?
If not, are you willing to build partnerships NOW that would increase competitiveness and achievement of goals?
Partnerships are increasingly critical to receiving grant funding for most programs and especially for large-dollar and government-funded grant programs. If you do not have and are not in a position or willing to build partnerships at this time, grants may not be the best fundraising fit for your organization right now.
When you can answer "yes" to all five questions, you will be in a strong a position to begin applying for grants!
Tips for Applying for Grants
Confident you're ready to begin applying for grants? How exciting! As you begin the process of identifying the grant(s) you want to pursue and writing your grant application(s), keep the following top tips in mind.
- Make sure your project is an appropriate fit for the grant you plan to apply to before you submit an application. To do this, learn as much as you can about the program you are considering by thoroughly reviewing the RFP/grant guidelines, communicating with the program contact, reading about the program on the official website, and reading about projects the program has previously funded.
- Each proposal you submit should be unique: each application should respond directly to the specifications of the grant guidelines using detailed information about your local needs and resources.
- Be sure to follow any and all directions the funder gives!
- Provide the funder with the information requested by the RFP/grant guidelines in the order it is requested. This makes it easier for reviewers to identify where and how you have responded to each of the grant criteria.
- Don’t bother trying to tell a story or relating your vision —stay focused on the problem and how you plan to solve it!
- Strive to use language any reader—regardless of whether he/she works in your field—can understand. Define any acronyms and/or field-specific terms that are used in your narrative at least once.
- Provide evidence of a local need for the project! Use state and national statistics only for comparison purposes.
- Always discuss relevant local, state, and federal standards and/or mandates in terms of how you are currently unable to meet them, why, how your proposed project will change that, and to what degree.
- Discuss measurable outcomes, in addition to your goals and objectives, that are clearly linked to your stated needs and proposed project activities.
- Make sure your partners are active partners, rather than partners in name only. Any letters of support should demonstrate commitment to the project by explaining how the partner will contribute to the project.
- Have someone who has not worked on the narrative read it over to help you ensure clarity before you finalize it.
- Be sure items requested in your budget are discussed in your narrative and are clearly linked to addressing the needs you have discussed and realizing your stated outcomes.
- Always include a budget narrative that illustrates how you calculated each number contributing to your budget total and provides adequate justification for each line item.
- Your application should include only documents specifically requested by the funder. Any additional information will almost certainly not be read.
- Get reviewers comments for all government proposals you submit and any foundation proposals willing to provide the information. Use that feedback to prepare future proposals. Visit www.fcc.gov/foia for information on how to request reviewer scores and comments for your federal grant proposals through the Freedom of Information Act.
- Keep the numbers in mind: many, many grant programs now fund just 5-10% of applications submitted. Obtaining funding takes time, and chances are you will have to submit more grants than you will win. Don't let yourself get discouraged. Keep refining your project design and submitting applications, and you will achieve your funding goals.
How Polar Fits into Grants
Polar offers state-of-the art individual and group physical activity and fitness assessment technologies, including but not limited to products designed especially for personal fitness, athlete training, and use in schools. The overall case for these products is clear, and your interest in pursuing grant funding to obtain them evidences your commitment to fitness, overall health, and the improvement of both through objective data and data-driven decision-making.
So how does Polar fit into grants? We'll discuss a few common ways here, but talk with your Polar Sales Representative for more ideas about how Polar can best fit into your grant application based on your organization's specific needs, priorities, and project design.
Evaluation and Assessment: The most common way Polar products and services fit into grant projects is as tools for assessment of outcomes as part of the evaluation of the effectiveness of the grant project. Did you achieve the goals and outcomes you wanted to? For physical activity and fitness achievement outcomes for individuals and groups, Polar products are ideal assessment tools. As all tools are tested and proven effective, and all tools generate objective results, an evaluation that includes Polar products is an evaluation offering accurate, objective, measured, quantitative results! Funders look for evaluation plans with these elements! Think about the outcomes you want to achieve and how Polar can play a role in helping you evaluate them, and in doing so, contribute to your overall project evaluation plan.
Project Design: Depending on your project design and aims, Polar products and services can play a variety of important roles. For example, if you are looking to address grading and assessment inadequacies, Polar products are a strong fit for implementing objective measurement tools that will complement broader revised grading and assessment policies. If physical education (PE) teachers have lacked opportunities for professional development specific to their field in recent years, Polar trainings are an ideal response to teacher learning needs related to achievement of fitness and recommended amounts of physical activity, assessment, and technology. If your project aims to educate your target population about heart health, Polar heart rate monitors can offer the data, real-time feedback, and visual needed to drive these lessons home in a real and comprehensible way. If your project aims to increase physical activity time during PE, the broader school day, or during out-of-school time activities, Polar products offer an objective means for ensuring that each individual student is achieving the specific physical activity time and intensity aims you've set--and is motivated to do so by real-time feedback!
Project NEED: If you have some Polar products now but are hoping to obtain grant funding to expand the use of Polar within your organization, or you're looking for funding for other physical activity projects (such as funding staffing for a before or after school program that will offer students new opportunities for regular physical activity), leverage the data from your existing Polar products! Create a strong case for need by presenting objective data showing how much time and at which intensity levels students are active now and/or where student fitness levels are at currently and explain why those levels are inadequate compared to recommendations and standards, or compare the achievement of students using Polar products to those who do not have access to them yet!
Other Helpful Information for Grant Seekers
This page provides a series of brief posts on a variety of grant-related topics including grant vocabulary and how to use recognized assessments to create a case for need.
Paul is the department chair for Physical Education, Health, and Driver Education. He's been teaching for 36 years total, and has been teaching with Polar technology for the last 12 years. He's a member of National AAHPERD, Assistant Director PE4LIFE Naperville Academy, and also part of the Illinois High School Coaches Association. In addition to that he is a consultant for X2 Youth Fitness Centers and a part of the Organizing Committee for DuPage County PE Institute.
About Naperville Central High School:
Naperville is part of Naperville Community Unit School District in Naperville, Illinois. In this suburban area the typical P.E. class size is 36 students. Students are in grade levels 9-12. For the last 12 years at Naperville teachers have been using Polar heart rate monitors (HRMs) in class, and have also been using the TriFIT system for the last ten years. Naperville is also a PE4Life Academy.
Paul uses team sports, teambuilding, individual sports and fitness activities to teach physical education at his school
The 2005 PEP grant, 2004 Congresswoman Judy Biggart Community grant, and 2000 & 2001 Naperville Education Foundation grants provided the funding for Naperville Central High to use Polar technology. Paul incorporates Polar in his lesson plans at least once a week and sometimes more often than that. Naperville started using Polar when various school officials heard Beth Kirkpatrick speak. At first, Paul ordered 5 E200s and an XL to try teaching with heart rate. After the first year he knew he wanted to have a classroom set to be able to track each student individually. He was able to get parents and the community involved, and they raised enough money to buy another ten HRMs. The school PTA matched the money for another ten and successfully lobbied the Board of Education to match the ten as well. For Paul, the most important reasons to use Polar are, "helping students know the level of effort needed to be fit cardio wise, the longitudinal study of student fitness levels, and discovering problems at an early age stage to set up intervention."
Paul likes Polar's "ease of use, data collection capabilities, and student accountability."
Administration likes "data collection and student accountability."
Personal Highlight: Paul says, "Based on the TriFIT data, our students are far ahead of the norm for fitness levels when compared nation wide."
Niles North and Niles West High Schools
9800 Lawler Avenue, Skokie, IL
About the Teacher:
Paul Swanson is the Director of Physical Welfare at Niles North and Niles West High Schools. Affiliated with AAHPERD, IAHPERD, Illinois Track Coaches Association and ASCD, he brings his 22-years of teaching experience (15 of them using Polar) to the Niles Township High School District 219. He has also been honored as a Blue Ribbon Award Winner for IAHPERD.
About Niles North and Niles West:
Niles North and Niles West High Schools are located in Skokie, Illinois and are part of the Niles Township High School District 219. These suburban high schools, teaching grades 9-12, have an average class size of 40 students. High schools in this district have been utilizing Polar since the early 90s.
Using E600, E200 and E40 heart rate monitors, teachers incorporate Polar technology into their classes several times a week. In the 2011-2012 school year, Niles North and Niles West are starting a program where every incoming freshman in the class of 2015 will wear a heart rate monitor every day. Teachers utilize the data collection and immediate feedback to fodder conversations with students and parents about fitness levels. As students are seeing their efforts in real time, Niles North and Niles West PE teachers have seen their students put in greater efforts in annual fitness testing, and they seem to show a greater understanding of the importance of health related fitness concepts.
The Niles Township High School District 219 has created two state-of-the-art cardio laboratories in both high school buildings. Each facility has 44 pieces of cardio equipment and audiovisual equipment, and heart rate technology is used as often as possible.
The Administration: "The administration likes the data produced the most. They demand that our classes have a fitness component in them regardless of the activity. The watches allow us to produce data that supports our claims that fitness occurs not only in our cardio labs but in other sports and activities as well."
The Students: "Educationally our students are informed about heart rate, target heart rate maximum heart rate and an appropriate target heart rate zone. It also reinforces concepts for FITT for our students in a very visual and tangible manner." We have also utilized the technology to implement a Learning Readiness program for students struggling in reading. Based on the John Ratey research highlighted in the book "Spark," we have placed high energy PE class right before the students reading class. We have seen small sample results that indicate a correlation between exercise and learning.
Illinois State University
100 North University Street Normal, IL 61761
Dale D. Brown
Dale is a Professor of Exercise Physiology at Illinois State University. In Dales' 24 years of teaching, he has taught 10 years using Polar. He is affiliated with various memberships such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association and American College of Sports Medicine. Throughout his career he has received awards such as the Outstanding Teaching Award at Illinois State University and the Central Illinois American Heart Association Heart Saver and Hero Award.
About Illinois State University:
The School of Kinesiology and Recreation is located in the university right outside of Normal, Illinois. Illinois State University offers many undergraduate and graduate PE programs. The School of Kinesiology and Recreation provides various programs to enable students to choose from a diverse range of careers. These academic options include: athletic training, exercise science, physical education teacher education, recreation management, and therapeutic recreation.
The University started using Polar technology in conjunction with grant programs accompanying collaboration in area schools. As the university worked to enhance physical education programs (K-12), Polar technology/products became incorporated into primary, secondary and university classes as well as in our Exercise Physiology laboratory. As a result, Polar technology has become integrated into teaching, research and service programs at Illinois State University.
Polar has made an impact on Illinois State University. They have been using various types of Polar systems. These systems including the Polar TriFIT 600 and 700 system, Heart Rate monitors E200's, E600's, FT60's, Team 2 Heart Rate Monitoring System, and handheld PDA devices.
This technology has enhanced the curriculum at the University by allowing students to experience the application of concepts taught in classes. Through the measurement, recording and summary of their personal data, students better connect concepts to everyday life. Students not only realize ways to better their own wellbeing but also learn how the technology can be utilized in the real world as they progress into professional settings. The summary reports that Polar TriFIT creates allows for the students who have no Exercise Physiology background to understand why the five components of fitness are important, where they currently rank among population specific norms and standards, and it also gives students an idea of WHY it is important to either maintain or improve these numbers. The reliability, versatility and the applicability of the Polar technology makes the equipment very attractive and useful.
Millis Middle/High School
Millis-Clicquot, Millis, MA
Physical Education teacher
I like how Polar technology allows me to differentiate instruction and personalize the class for each student. I like how it levels the playing field for all students and allows each student to exercise based on their needs. One powerful advantage of using the technology is that it motivates my students, holds them accountable, and provides the platform for students to take personal responsibility for their performance. It also allows me to objectively assess each student based on their personal needs and fitness level, making grading easier and transparent for the students and parents. Polar technology provides me with formative and summative feedback for students and gives them concrete data on their progress and achievement. Lastly, Polar technology also provides me (and the students) a way to analyze their performance and a research based, data driven source of communication to students, parents, and administrators.
Scott Kendrick is a Physical Education teacher at Millis Middle/High School in the state of Massachusetts. He has a Master’s Degree from Bridgewater State University, and has been teaching for the past 19 years. Scott has been using Polar technology for the last 15 years, and currently is Polar’s Showcase Teacher for the state of Massachusetts. He has had the honor to present for Apple at their annual Apple Tech Update and has worked internationally as a technology integration consultant for Ed Tech Teacher as part of St. Maarten’s iStep initiative. Scott has also been featured in Commonwealth Magazine with Dr. John Ratey, in the article "Sparking the Brain,” the Metrowest Community Health Care Foundation’s report on childhood obesity, the Boston Globe’s "It’s Weight on Their Minds,” and in the Milford Daily News article “Millis Students Putting Their Hearts Into it.”
East Evergreen Elementary School
Physical Education teacher
Before I ordered the Polar watches I had piloted another brand of heart monitors. I purchased four and tried them out to see if they would work for me. I am finding out that Polar is far better. I am finding that the monitors, software, app, functionality, professional development, and support of Polar is far superior. I am very excited about seeing my students' achievement over time! Student watches are working very well in my class and the students are setting goals, working extremely hard, making growth, and loving the personalized data. I am learning so much!
Glenbard North High School
Department Chair: Physical Education, Health, and Driver Education
Why did you choose Polar over other heart companies?
I have always had great tech support and customer service with Polar. Using technology can be a challenge and knowing there is someone you can call to solve makes it easier and less stressful to incorporate it into our PE program
What do you like most about teaching students using Polar Technology?
At my school we stopped grading on heart rate when using heart monitors and it really helped to change students' attitudes and opinions about them. Instead we use them to teach students about their heart and the circulatory system and how best to train it. I also use them to do alternative cardiovascular assessments for our adapted PE students based on the Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFD). Cardiovascular assessments don't have to be maximal efforts. This is the future of cardiovascular assessment in school. Maximal or sub maximal testing of students is dangerous and is not reliable data. I am loving the new fitness assessment addition to Polar’s watches. In 5 minutes, it estimates a vo2 max without students breaking a sweat. I can now see student growth that I know is authentic, because student effort plays no part in the test.
What does your administration like the most?
Using Polar heart rate monitors gives some objective data in an otherwise largely subjective teaching area. They are great to use when teachers are being evaluated.
How do your students like using Polar technology during classes?
Our feeder schools all used Polar heart rate monitors. When I would pull them out for the first-time in a new school year with freshman, they had a less than enthusiastic response to using them. I ended up having some very good conversations in class about how and why we should use them. Once we took out the daily grading of heart rate, student attitudes changed. Students used them as a tool instead of a teacher student effort tracker and everyone stopped stressing when the technology did not work correctly.
How often do you incorporate Polar heart rate monitors into your lesson plans?
We use them once a week (before covid) in all our PE classes. I have 4 classes running each period all day so we share them. We recently purchased the polar Unite watches for our zero hour curriculum during COVID. They were not assigned a time period to meet so they are completely virtual. Because of the success of this class and the use of the Unite watches we will offer an online remote Physical Education class as an option for students next year. I would not have supported online class as an option without the polar heart rate technology. I am excited to teach this class next year and I am really impressed with the new changes Polar has made to help schools teach in a COVID change educational environment.
What is the most important reason to use Polar in physical education?
I use them to help teach lifelong fitness. The reality is that most people already have a heart rate monitor on their wrist but they don't know how to use it to improve their own fitness. We attempt to teach that.
What visible improvements have you seen in your students in your experience using Polar products?
The new Polar Unite watches we purchased will be a huge new addition to our PE program. Polar has made online PE possible with the development of new hardware and software technology.