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Education Dept. Awards $35M for Physical Education Programs

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that it would be awarding 76 grants worth over $35 million to community-based organizations and local education agencies for physical education and nutrition programs.

The grants will be awarded through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), which is dedicated to the initiation, expansion, or enhancement of K-12 physical education programs.

The winners' programs must help students progress toward passing their state standards for physical education, first and foremost. In addition, the programs must instruct students about good nutrition and healthy eating habits, and must include physical fitness activities that fall into at least one of these categories (taken from the ED website):

• fitness education and assessment to help students understand, improve, or maintain their physical well-being;

• instruction in a variety of motor skills and physical activities designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social or emotional development of every student;

• development of and instruction in cognitive concepts about motor skills and physical fitness that support a lifelong healthy lifestyle;

• opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation and;

• opportunities for professional development for physical education teachers to stay abreast of the latest research, issues, and trends in the field of physical education.

The PEP grant money can be allocated a number of ways: to support staff/teacher training, to provide equipment, to develop curricula, for student fitness assessments, and for data collection and evaluation. The funding can also be used to provide equipment, but the "purpose of the PEP grant is not to provide new playgrounds or facilities," according to the ED website.

Instead, PEP grant funds are intended to develop physical education programs in schools and in after-school programs.

"As a result of these grants, schools will have additional resources to help students become healthier and more active," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.

The Dept. of Ed.'s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, which was restructured into the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, oversees the PEP grant program.

The last data available for the PEP grants, from 2006, shows that the Education Department appropriated over $72 million through 58 new grants that year. It also awarded 291 continuation grants in 2006.

For a full list of 2011 PEP grant winners, check here.

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