Strategies to Fund a School AED Program

It is true that Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are expensive, and that cost is a barrier for a lot of schools to purchase these life-saving devices. But that is no excuse for not having an AED. You never want to have to explain to the family and friends of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) victim that your school was not prepared to save their loved one’s life from the leading cause of death in the country. From experience, we can tell you that they will find claims or excuses about cost to be woefully inadequate, and irresponsible.

Given that school campuses function as “mini-cities” on a daily basis, it’s inevitable that someone will eventually go into SCA on your campus. It may not be today, tomorrow, next month, or even this year…but the odds are high that it will happen eventually. 

Below are a few ideas on how to get your school’s AED program funded if the dollars are not already available within the school budget. 

Pursue Local Grants & Sponsorship from Non-Profits or Companies: 

Instead of applying for grants from larger national organizations, we recommend that you apply for grants and seek sponsorship from local organizations since they are likely to have a more tangible and personal connection to their local community. Local organizations want to support impactful endeavors in their own backyard. 

A couple of examples of how to leverage local organizations to fund a school AED program are: 

  • Work with a local non-profit to see if they can help fund your AED program. A great example of this is The Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation (EP Save A Life) has secured sponsorship from a local company, M Bar C Construction, to place AEDs on school campuses throughout San Diego County. Learn if there’s a non-profit, just like EP Save A Life, that’s working on SCA prevention in your community
  • The Danville Rotary Club donated funds to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District to ensure that at least two AEDs could be purchased for every school in the district

Another example (among many) of how to pursue “local” dollars is partnering with a local retailer to ask their customers to donate to your cause upon checkout. Ashley Valavala, the Director of Development for the Cody Stephens Foundation, utilized this strategy to great success in Texas, as the foundation was able to raise $25,000!

Partner with the Local Health System or Hospital: 

Most health systems and/or local hospitals have community outreach teams that are both willing and often required to give back to the local community. Protecting the lives of their community members through a school AED program fits perfectly within the wheelhouse of initiatives that a healthcare system should want to fund!

There are many examples of healthcare systems funding AEDs for school campuses including: 

  • Since 2017, the Atlantic Health System in New Jersey has donated over 25 AEDs to their community (primarily to schools)
  • In North Carolina, Carolina’s Healthcare System Blue Ridge donated 10 AEDs to McDowell County Public Schools. As reported by The McDowell News, when asked about the impact this makes in the community, the CEO of the health system said, “If we save one life, it’s money well spent.”

Apply for Grants from Like-Minded National Corporations

If you’re unable to secure funding for your program from local organizations, then it’s worth applying for grants from larger corporations whose core mission aligns with your need to fund your school’s AED program. 

A great example of a corporation that meets this criterion is the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. According to their website, their mission is to, impact the lifesaving capabilities and the lives of local heroes and their communities. This is accomplished by providing lifesaving equipment and prevention education tools to first responders and public safety organizations.”

Listen to this audio clip to learn how Jonathan Gedalia, the Athletic Trainer at Valencia High School, successfully received a grant from Firehouse Subs to add five AEDs to their school AED program.

Organize a Fundraiser

You can always work with the various stakeholders involved with your school (i.e. student government, PTA, sports booster clubs, and parents) to organize a fundraiser! A few ideas for school fundraisers are:

  • Student-staffed bake sales
  • PTA sponsored fundraising dinners,
  • Crowdfunding platforms such as GotAED supported by school administration who widely share a link to the initiative with parents of the students

If properly educated about the prevalence and dangers of SCA, and the importance of having AEDs readily accessible, these stakeholders will certainly band together to ensure that everyone is safe from cardiac arrest at their community school campuses! Check out more AED Fundraising ideas.

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