The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


An Inaugural Funding Opportunity

By Catherine Vowell, Associate Director Youth Initiatives
Physical Education. Many of us recall the “gym” classes of our youth where the focus was on competition and performance. Emphasis was placed on finishing first or being the best. Those who were athletic in nature thrived with this competition; while others dreaded it. When it came time to assess student’s fitness levels, students were pitted against each other, comparing who could do more push-ups or run faster. Fortunately, times have changed!  The emphasis is now on health - not performance - and on teaching personal goal setting - not competition.

Late last year, leaders in the space of youth fitness assessment and physical education came together to launch the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP), a national fitness assessment program that encourages physical activity for lifelong health. This partnership represents decades of work in the area of youth fitness assessment and promotion.  Available at no cost to schools, the program brings the necessary tools, resources and guidance into physical education classrooms and focuses on one of our nation’s greatest concerns—the well-being of our youth.

The first step to impact change in your local school is to learn more. The program website,, provides access a number of resources and opportunities.  The About section of the site provides teachers with customized guidance on how to get started.  The Resources tab includes a Physical Educator Resource Guide and parents (yes, parents, we want you to know what’s going on, too) can review their own Parent Resource Guide.  Educators and administrators may be interested in the document, Appropriate Uses of Fitness Measurement.

Finally, there is an exciting new opportunity available to support schools in their implementation of this program. Although the PYFP is free, an Inaugural Funding Opportunity is now available to provide extra support and guidance for physical educators to monitor, track and facilitate fitness assessment in their schools! The General Mills Foundation, understanding the need and importance of this program, selected the PYFP to be the recipient of its largest donation in the foundation’s history--$10 million over six years.  Through these funds, physical educators will receive valuable training to ensure a meaningful fitness assessment experience for students and gain access to software that will allow them to track and report on individualized student outcomes, as well as provide recognition for student achievement!

The PYFP website provides a funding application worksheet, which a designated school representative can use now to get a jump-start on their application.  The on-line application must be completed between April 1 and April 30, 2013.  Recipients will be announced on June 1 to begin implementation of the program at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.  So, what are you waiting for?  The information is there for you to get started! Connect with your school leadership today and embark on this path and take part in this first-ever Inaugural Funding Opportunity.  Our children and their future are worth it!