Opinion: Commentary: Looking Ahead, RunningBrooke to Build on Past Success

Opinion: Commentary: Looking Ahead, RunningBrooke to Build on Past Success

At RunningBrooke, we’re always looking ahead to maximize our donors’ impact and give Alexandria’s kids the tools they need to succeed in and out of the classroom. But while we focus on the future, it’s also crucial to survey the past year and all the progress we’ve made together. After all, last year’s successes are the foundation for achieving new heights in 2020. We’re feeling ambitious and resolving to have our best year yet.

Last year was a pivotal year: We established city-wide Move2Learn Movement Challenges, reaching students in all 14 elementary schools in Alexandria. Studies show that widespread change starts in the classroom. Our Movement Challenges are a perfect example of how grassroots movements ensure major structural change. In fact, 97 percent of teachers who participated said daily brain boosts — activities like Pop-Ups like Popcorn and Rock, Paper, Scissors, Math — had a positive effect on classroom efficiency and structure. With more than 21,000 brain boosts, Matthew Maury Elementary won first place in both March and October and received $5,000 to further support creative and sustainable movement programs. Following the success of last year’s Movement Challenges, we plan to expand and reach even more students in 2020. This past year, RunningBrooke sponsored grants to specifically support teachers who are doing game-changing work in the classroom. We awarded nearly $20,000 — money that goes directly toward providing kids with the resources to be active and healthy inside and outside the classroom. Teachers report that as a result of these funds, students are more focused, and ready, willing, and able to learn.

One recipient of these grants was Alexandria’s 2019 Teacher of the Year April Rodgers, who founded the groundbreaking and innovative “Pedals and Pages” program at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary. We know a good idea when we see one—and Pedals and Pages proved to be a resounding success. Students were so enthusiastic about the opportunity to read while pedaling a stationary bike that ACPS pledged to expand the program to every elementary school in the district.

Given the immense success of these grants, in 2020 we are committed to investing even more in our city’s teachers and students, so they have more of what they need to succeed in school. Teachers know best; let’s give them the tools they need to ensure better outcomes for their students. Our next competitive grant cycle is scheduled to reopen in late spring.

In the coming year, Alexandria will be a national leader in getting kids moving at school—an accomplishment only possible due to our city’s tireless teachers and administrators, as well as RunningBrooke’s generous donors. “The idea is to use the powerful benefits of exercise to affect the academic performance,” says Rodgers. “Students are more focused, more engaged, and exercise makes them feel good.”

In 2020, we at RunningBrooke resolve to do everything we can to champion Alexandria’s children and spark a movement revolution across classrooms and schools throughout the city. We’re building off last year’s exciting and innovative initiatives to make sure 2020 is our best year yet—won’t you join us? Find us at runningbrooke.org or email us at info@runningbrooke.org.