Students Run LA

This article highlights one of the many smaller projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Students Run LA gives at-risk students in Los Angeles the chance to compete in that city's marathon. It began as one teacher's inspiration and grew into a citywide program that involved 250 teacher-leaders in more than 150 schools. The project's emphasis on setting and achieving goals appears to influence students positively. Discipline issues disappear and attendance and grades improve among kids participating in the program. RWJF made a significant contribution to the already existing program when it financed the entry of middle school students into the Los Angeles Marathon between 1998 and 2001. Since then, it has funded a toolkit designed to replicate the program and financed the development of a similar program in Philadelphia. The article's author notes that Students Run LA uses teachers as mentor-trainers, whereas in Philadelphia adult leaders are used who may not be as closely connected to students. Time will tell whether that model will be as successful as Students Run LA.