The Carol M. White PEP Grant Program in 2014

The US Department of Education's (ED) Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) provides funds to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs; public school districts and charter schools designated as LEAs by their states) and community-based organizations (CBOs) to initiate or expand physical education programs that help K-12 students meet or exceed state Physical Education standards through healthy eating education and one or more of the following physical activities: (a) fitness education and assessment to help students understand, improve, or maintain their physical well-being; (b) instruction in a variety of motor skills and physical activities designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social or emotional development of every student; (c) development of, and instruction in, cognitive concepts about motor skills and physical fitness that support a lifelong healthy lifestyle; (d) opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation; and/or (e) opportunities for professional development for teachers of physical education to stay abreast of the latest research, issues, and trends in the field of physical education.

PEP is open to LEAs and CBOs across the country, and is the best-fitting funding source for most large-scale, high-cost physical education improvement projects. This is because PEP is one of the few grants aimed specifically at PE, and because it offers awards of up to $750,000 per year or more for up to three years. (Applicants must meet matching requirements of 10% of the total project cost in Year 1 and 25% of the total project cost per year each additional year.) The program has been making awards since 2001, and as would be expected, it is highly competitive.

ED decided to fund down the slate in 2014. This means ED chose to make new awards but not to accept new grant applications. Since no new competition was held, 2014 PEP grant winners were selected from high-scoring but non-winning 2013 applicants.

On April 15, 2014, ED publicly announced the 67 2014 PEP grant winners in 32 states. Awards totaled $34,331,478. Access the official press release here, or view the list of winners through PEP's Awards page here.

This year, awards were made to LEAs and CBOs in: Alaska (1), Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Arizona (1), California (6), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Florida (2) Idaho (1), Illinois (3), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (1),  Massachusetts (2), Maine (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (1), Montana (2), Nebraska (2), New Mexico (1), New York (7), North Dakota (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), Pennsylvania (4), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (7).

It should be noted that the award amounts posted for 2014 are for Year 1 only, though most grantees request and receive three years of funding. The single largest award made in 2014 for Year 1 went to The School Board of Broward County (FL) for $950,949, and the most modest award went to Mansfield School District 67 (AR) for $160,000. Readers should keep in mind, however, that each awardee is unique. Target population sizes vary greatly, as do needs and project designs. Project costs also vary by region, particularly for personnel and fringe benefits. Some awardees can do as much with $150,000 as others can do with $700,000, so award size alone should not be assumed to be any sort of indicator of project quality or scope. We can assume, though, that the 67 organizations receiving awards this year presented high-quality project designs in strong applications--the high level of competition within this grant program demands both for an award to be won. Congratulations to all 2014 winners!

If you are hoping to apply for a PEP grant, you'll need to wait until 2015. While program funding is contingent on Congress, provided Congress does allocate funds, a new competition is likely in 2015. This program has funded down the slate in 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2014--never two years in a row. While two years of down the slate funding is not impossible, it is unlikely in this case. This has been confirmed by the PEP Program Manager.

While the lack of a new grant competition in 2014 was likely disappointing for many potential applicants, it provides a terrific opportunity with regard to preparation time. If your organization would like to apply for PEP in 2015, don't wait--get start NOW (or continue!):

  • Pulling together data to demonstrate your need
  • Defining and refining your project design
  • Building and expanding partnerships and partner roles
  • Talking with Polar and vendors of other types of products and services to determine which products and services will best meet your students' learning needs and your staff's training needs and to begin estimating costs

You can be sure a good number of your competitors are taking these very steps and maximizing the preparation time available to them. So competition in 2015 is likely to be even tougher than usual--be ready to submit an awesome application! Good luck!