Students Run LA Expands and Is Taken Up in Philly

Promoting health and self-esteem through running programs for middle and high school students
    • December 22, 2014

Dates of Project: August 1998 through June 2008

Description: Students Run LA, under the first of three grants from the RWJF Local Funding Partnerships program beginning in 1998, expanded to include Los Angeles area middle school students in its after-school program, which provides mentoring and training to help students run the ASICS LA Marathon. Under a second grant, staff created a toolkit for teaching other communities to build similar programs, and, supported by a third grant, created a business plan for marketing the toolkit.

National Nursing Centers Consortium, with separate RWJF Local Funding Partnerships support beginning in 2004, subsequently created a running program in Philadelphia, Students Run Philly Style, that followed the outlines of the toolkit created by Students Run LA.

“What we were addressing was the hopelessness that urban youth face daily. We now realize that we are addressing any number of things—amounting to a basic transformation of the lives of these students.” Heather McDanel, Executive Director and Founder, Students Run Philly Style.

Key Results

  • In each of the three years of the first grant, the number of middle-school runners exceeded the goals set by the project team, with more than 400 middle school students completing the race in the last year (2001).
  • The middle-school runners met goals of improved self-esteem, physical fitness, and eating habits; reduced drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; and decreased truancy, gang involvement, and other delinquent activities.
  • The project team created a toolkit to guide communities in replicating a student running program and distributed 106 toolkits to individuals and communities in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.
  • Consultants assisting the business plan development concluded that there was strong interest in the toolkit among organizations familiar with the program, but that considerable effort would be needed to build a large market.
  • The Students Run Philly Style program recruited 935 student participants and 160 adult leaders to participate in marathons over its four-year grant period.
  • As of 2014, 91 percent of 12th grade students participating in Students Run Philly Style graduated high school and 90 percent of those had been accepted into a four-year college.

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In 2014, 11,071 Students Run LA middle schoolers complete LA Marathon; Students Run Philly Style serves 4K+