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Budget-Friendly Playground Solutions for Cash-Strapped Schools

There’s no question that playground equipment can be a huge investment for schools. High-quality playsets, swings, and other park equipment are built with durable materials and expert construction. Because they’re designed to last, they understandably cost a big chunk of money upfront. If your school is strapped for cash, you may be wondering how you can afford to install a new play yard or upgrade an outdated one.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep costs low while still building exceptional play areas kids will love. You may need to spend more time researching the most affordable playground options, but your efforts will pay off. Here are some tips for creating fun and inviting school playgrounds for cash-strapped schools.   

Get Financing

When purchasing equipment for your play yard, go through a provider that offers financing. This allows you to make monthly installments instead of paying the entire cost of your purchase upfront. It’s nice to pay in affordable increments that don’t stretch your already-limited budget too thin.

When you finance playground equipment, you could also ask about phasing programs. If your provider offers this option, they install one segment of your playground at a time and you pay only for the phase as it’s built. This means you can spread project costs out over time. It can also be a fun way to watch your play yard come to life a little at a time and generate excitement as school kids watch their play area get larger from year to year.  

Lease the Equipment

If you don’t want to wait years for your play yard to get completely built out, leasing is another viable option. This option allows you to design and install your play equipment right away instead of receiving it in segments. As with financing, you’ll still make reasonable payments on the leased equipment. You’ll continue making payments on the equipment for as long as you plan to use it.

Leasing equipment offers potential tax advantages for your school. Many schools find the low monthly payments and attractive interest rates quite manageable. However, leasing may not be the best option for everyone. Be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether this is the right choice for your school.

Host a Fundraiser

Most schools rely on fundraisers to generate money for various needs and causes. Fundraising is an excellent way to fund a new playground or get the money necessary to upgrade an old and unsafe one. It’s also a great opportunity to bring community members together and generate excitement for the new play area.

If possible, plan to host your fundraising event on or near the site where the playground will eventually be. This will help to generate more interest and enthusiasm for the project. There are so many different fundraising ideas you can use to help bring in donated cash. Just a few ideas include a bake sale, school carnival, talent show, silent auction, or an outdoor concert or movie.

Apply for Grants

A grant is a financial reward given by the government or another organization for a specific cause. Unlike a loan, a grant doesn’t need to be repaid. Therefore, it’s an attractive way for cash-strapped schools to afford things like slides, swing sets, and other outdoor play equipment. Research different grant opportunities in your area that could help fund your school play area.

Some grants are reserved exclusively for playgrounds that meet certain criteria. For example, some might require you to ensure your equipment is inclusive for children with disabilities. It’s a good idea to include all-abilities features in your park whether you apply for such a grant or not. While writing grant applications, make sure you mention how this equipment will benefit your students and community.

Ask for Donations

It can be hard to ask for donations, but that may be one of the best ways to generate money for a school play area. Parents of school-aged children may enjoy having the opportunity to contribute financially to such a project. They want their kids to have safe and engaging areas to play and socialize with their peers.

Beyond individual donations, you might also consider asking local businesses for financial contributions. Many local shops are heavily invested in their communities. Therefore, they’re often excited to participate in any effort that can help their communities thrive. Some businesses may be willing to donate a day’s profit to the playground initiative. Others may prefer to host an auction or fundraiser to benefit the cause.

Invest in Affordable Equipment

You don’t need to install the most expensive equipment available to build a great playground. If you’re interested in saving money, take time to research and invest in affordable equipment. You can even recycle old or donated materials to create a unique, low-budget play area that kids will love.

For example, donated tires from nearby construction sites can become affordable tire swings or obstacle courses. Just be sure to thoroughly clean them off to remove oil, asphalt, gasoline, and other potentially caustic substances. Sandboxes and sand toys also tend to be more affordable than some larger play structures. Swing sets also tend to rank high on the affordability scale, so be sure to invest in a few of those.

Kids thrive in imagination-stimulating environments. If your school play yards are currently insufficient for the needs of your school kids, it’s time to make a change. Use these tips to create budget-friendly playground solutions that will help boost the social, physical, and emotional health of your students.