On the final day of FY2013, the Department of Education announced the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant Award winners. PEP grants are multi-year grants for PE equipment purchases and teacher training tied to innovative physical education methods. This highly competitive grant program (less than 10 percent of applicants win awards) is managed by the Department of Education and is the only Federal Funding dedicated to physical education. Less than 10 percent of PEP Grant applicants are approved for funding.

Since the PEP money was allocated for FY 2013 (which ended September 30th) it is not impacted by the government shutdown which began October 1st and effects FY2014 government funds. However, with the Department of Education short staffed due to the shutdown, there could be delays in delivering the funds.  In all, $32 million will be distributed to 56 schools/school districts and four community based organizations to provide quality physical education to America’s youth. The balance of the $78 million in FY2013 PEP funds will be directed to the 2nd and 3rd years of PEP grants awarded in 2011 and 2012.  

Schools and Community Based Organizations from 25 states and the District of Columbia will share the $32 million in new funding. New York received the most PEP awards with 11 for a total of $5.4 million, California, Iowa and North Carolina received four awards each, followed by Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin with three awards each. Awards ranged from $145,000 for Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line (MT) to $775,000 for Pinellas County School District (FL). The average PEP grant was $533,000. A complete list of PEP Grant Award Winners can be found here http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-nearly-32-million-local-education-agencies-and-co

“We are pleased to see continued funding of the PEP program.  PEP has given students access to quality PE for more than a decade and provided the foundation young people need to live active, healthy lives,” said Bill Sells, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).

Sells did express concern over the late announcement of the awards. “It is unfortunate these awards were announced again after the start of the school year. The award winning schools now have to change their PE curriculum, conduct training and purchase equipment in the middle of the school year which creates a big challenge in implementing their new PE programs.”

The importance of the PEP funding was recently addressed at the SFIA Industry Leaders Summit in Baltimore, MD on September 25-26, 2013. “Through this Summit, we are proactively bringing the industry’s leaders together to address our collective need to get America’s youth more active,” said Tom Cove, SFIA President and CEO. “There is a strong sentiment within the sports and fitness executive community that we need to solicit additional funding for this specific initiative. The childhood obesity data clearly tells us what will happen if we don’t. Skyrocketing childhood obesity rates are one of the biggest issues facing our country today and effective Physical Education programs in schools are one of the most important ways we can address this epidemic.”
SFIA hosts National Health-Through-Fitness Day each March to bring together athletes, teachers, sports & fitness industry executives, medical professionals and other physical activity advocates to meet with Congress and request support for PEP. In 2014, NHTF Day will be held on March 4-5 in Washington, DC. For more information on NHTF Day please click here http://www.sfia.org/calendar/447_SFIA%27s-2014-National-Health-Through-Fitness-Day.