Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How can I get funding for a challenge course program?

This is one of the questions I hear most often. And one of the hardest to answer.

The best advice I can give you is to not ask for funding for a challenge course or ropes course, but instead to for a social and emotional learning program that utilizes a challenge course as one of the tools to achieve specific goals.

Start by developing a solid, boiler plate narrative that identifies a problem or gap in your school, district or program. Then work with Project Adventure to develop a remedy that includes a challenge course, training and curriculum. Establish how you will measure and evaluate your progress toward solving the problem (getting outcomes you want).

Be sure to qualify the problem you are proposing to solve by getting data - drop out rates, free and reduced lunch rates, obesity rates, attendance, suspension or expulsion rates.....about your school, program or district specifically. Compare them to national or state data if it makes the case for your problem. There are many resources for this info.

Develop a full budget of what it will take financially to pull this off. Be certain to include things like substitute pay during trainings, or a stipend for a coordinator, transportation if required, curriculum, evaluation, etc. Figure out how much your school or agency can contribute for matching funds. And remember sometimes this can include in kind matches like space in a building for the program, utilities, etc. Rules vary.

Once you have a boiler plate narrative in place and an idea of how much money you need, you will be ready to begin "shopping" your proposal around.

Shopping means being ready when you meet someone who is connected to a foundation, when you hear about corporate funding opportunities or if you meet someone who says, "My association or group may be able to get behind that". Shopping also means reading about the target audience of the funding arm of corporations like Target, Sprint, Coca Cola and local corporations. Many times they list their funding info on websites about "corporate citizen" or "community development" or "donations" not generally on the corporate pages. And do your homework reading their goals. Don't waste their time or yours by applying if they aren't interested in the problem you want to solve.

Being ready means having your "elevator speech" pulled together and practicing it.

What is an elevator speech? It is a "pitch" about the problem (aka need), the proposed solution and the long term benefit to the person you are talking to that comes from solving the problem. And it should take no longer than an elevator trip from the first floor to the top floor. Sometimes that's how much time you may get to impress a busy funder and sometimes that is the length of their attention span.

An example of an elevator speech to the person who is responsible for bringing proposals for funding forth to the local Rotary or Chamber of Commerce may be:

"The drop out rate at xkxlx high school is higher than the national average. Research shows that by middle school, students are on the path to dropping out. And the primary reason for dropping out is lack of affiliation with peers and adults in the school setting. I've found a physical education program that not only works on fitness but also increases social and emotional skills and builds connections. If we can positively impact affiliation and ultimately keep kids in school, the business community will have a stronger workforce that includes high school graduates. Do you believe this would be something I could propose to your group for financial support?'

Once you get invited to submit a proposal or find an opportunity that aligns with your goals, you can tweak your boiler plate to meet the criteria of that funder.

Don't be surprised or disappointed if you get rejected a few times. Finding money takes time. Ask for feedback on your proposals. Sometimes they give it and sometimes they won't. If they do - listen. And don't be afraid to refine your message, get more info and resubmit - unless they tell you not too. Sometimes your goals just don't line up with funders matter how much you believe in it or how good of a program you suggest.

Seeking outside feedback on your proposal is a great idea. Ask around and see if there is anyone with grant writing or funding experience within your PTO/PTA, business community, local community college or place a free ad on line at places like Craigslist and simply ask for help. And get an editor or proofreader to check for grammar and spelling!

Consider talking with a professional grant writing consultant like our favorite, Insight Grants, LLC. The crew at Insight Grants really understand school funding and school funders. If you are attending the American Association of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conference in Fort Worth, TX...come by our booth ( #822) and meet the Insight Grant team.

Remember - getting funding is 85% being prepared...and 15% luck in being in the right place at the right time. Start preparing now so you can become one of the lucky ones!

A good resource for funding updates is from our partner, Flaghouse.

Feel free to ask questions or tell others about your funding successes by commenting below!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Social and Emotion Learning and Project Adventure

RESPECT is a structured model that uses Project Adventure's proven concepts, strategies and tools to change a school's learning environment. This research-based intervention is expected to improve:
*students' self-efficacy .
*goal setting capacity.
*empower students to better manage their own behavior.
*promote positive interactions among students and staff.

Depending on the scope of the intervention, long-term outcomes include increasing student attendance, reducing the number and severity of students' disciplinary incidents and improving students academic achievement.

The scope and breadth of the RESPECT implementation is determined collaboratively with PA Senior RESPECT specialists and school or district leadership. Depending on available staff development time, fiscal resources and readiness of staff, the design of the intervention can include:
  • Retreat for school leadership.
  • Physical Education, Health and Fitness professional development.
  • Lead teachers/implementation team workshops.
  • Whole school orientation.
  • Activity and curriculum training.
  • On-going support, consulting and technical assistance.
PA's model is differentiated from other models by the activity base. The adventure activity base provides a structure and safe environment for to practice new skills, reflect on those skills and transfer those skills to the classroom, the school or the community environment.

The training, framework and detailed procedures allow educators to bring their own lens and style to the process with affecting the outcomes.

This model has been piloted in Boston Pubic Middle Schools which has allowed the opportunity for test and refine the components in a real-world setting. Preliminary and on-going evaluations conducted by faculty and graduate students from University of NH have documented the practical importance and potential value of the RESPECT intervention to positively influence self-efficacy and social competency skills of participating middle school students. (Gass & Shirilla 2007; Anderson 2007).

The RESPECT model is in the initial phases of being replicated in other settings. A great way to learn more about Project Adventure and Social and Emotional Learning is to take an introductory workshop.

For more information infusing your school or program with a social and emotional competency building program, contact us at or 1-800-468-8898 x4554.

Monday, March 31, 2008

New Adventure and Experiential Products and Books Catalog Available!

Project Adventure's 2008 Products, Books and Props catalog is now available. If you'd like to receive a copy, email with all your contact info including:

School, agency or company
City State Zip

And put in the subject line: 2008 catalog please!

Lot's of new things including: Achieving Fitness Activity Guide. Achieving Fitness Pack Bag. And hundreds of props, equipment and books!