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Knowing where to start on your Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) funding quest can be a little overwhelming, but once I got started it all fell into place very quickly. I first wanted to make sure that I educated myself with the ESSA law, what my school district’s estimate amount of funding would be, and to see what was prioritized in my state plan. My go to place was the SHAPE America advocacy website. I had everything I needed at my fingertips. I used all the resources that SHAPE America provided and read through everything two or three times.

My state ESSA plan mentions physical education in there as an, “oh by the way,” but it is in there none the less. My school district has a federal programs advisor so my next step was to talk to her and get an idea of how receptive she was to allocating ESSA funds for our physical education programs. She was definitely for it, however she was very clear that she would give money to Title I schools first. Knowing this I thought I would be clever and pair my school with a Title I school. I wrote up a five-page request for funding. Now you probably don’t need to write that many pages, but when I started talking about the program I wanted to implement I just kept going.

After submitting my request, the federal programs advisor was quick to tell me she was not willing to fund my school but she would pass the request on to the principal of the Title I school. The principal was so excited about my idea and within two weeks time, their PE teacher was implementing it in his class. Now I could have felt defeated but I wasn’t, because I was actually successful! I just got federal funding for physical education even if it wasn’t for my school. When does that ever happen?

I am the PE/Health instructional coach for my district so I decided to use my position to educate PE teachers and administrators at other Title I schools on accessing ESSA funding for physical education programs. When writing my request I made sure I had an innovative program that matched my school districts philosophy and goals. I talked about how my program connects with our standards-based grading and how it would lead to student achievement. My school district is also very big on data collection so that had to be in there as well. Look, we all know how awesome our profession is, but because we don’t deal with ELA or Math every day we really need to work to sell our funding proposals. As I always tell my school district administrators, “PE isn’t all about balls.” We are all very passionate about what we do, so let that come out in your conversations and request for funds.

It became very apparent to me that most of our administrators don’t realize that physical education does and should have access to ESSA funding so it is up to us to make it happen. I would encourage anyone asking for funds to sit down with their administrators and have a conversation about ESSA and explain how you would use the funding for your PE programs. I tell my PE teachers and administrators that it isn’t about me and how I can shine it is about our students and how I can make them shine. I also get to make other schools in my district shine by helping them get ESSA funding for their PE programs.

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