Our Story, Mission, and Vision
Our Founding Story: Brooke Sydnor Curran
I started running when I was a mom of 3 young kids. At first it was a way to find time for myself and to have something just for me. I didn’t know at the time that I would eventually run more than 100 marathons, or that it would encourage me to launch a nonprofit that has now served tens of thousands of at-risk children.
Running gave, and still gives, me focus, self-confidence and well-being that I hadn’t had before. It changed the trajectory of my life and encouraged me to look beyond myself and how I could help the community. In doing so, I learned that research shows that running was not only having a positive effect on my physical health, it was also boosting my emotional health and changing my brain.
According to the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey, “physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another. For the brain to learn, these connections must be made” and “(e)xercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn.”
Not only was this true for me, but it also translates into real results when we look at students and exercise. As reported in Spark, when an exercise program was added to a junior high school in Titusville, PA, the standardized test scores “have risen from below the state average to 17 points above it in reading and 18 points above it in math.” The teachers also noted the psychosocial effects, with “not a single fist fight among the 550 junior high kids” since the program started.
Those results are powerful. I want all of Alexandria’s kids to have the same experience: greater focus in class, increased self-confidence and well-being; to use exercise to boost learning in school.
In 2009, I founded RunningBrooke. We have now helped more than 10,000 underserved kids gain access to physical activity through playgrounds, programs and grants. Kids across the city are moving more, reporting improved emotional health, and doing better in school. We have accomplished a lot, and we have a lot more left to do. We know our work won’t be done until EVERY child in Alexandria, no matter where they live or what school they attend, is active and ready to learn.
What We Do
RunningBrooke is THE organization that gets kids moving to spark academic learning in the classroom. How?
Community and Move2Learn Grants
We challenge organizations to combine movement and learning into their plans and curriculum. We then accept applications from community nonprofits, teachers, and extracurricular organizations and discuss the goals and plans behind each application. Grants are awarded to those programs that have a compelling plan to add exercise or movement to their educational programs, engaging Alexandria’s kids and their families.
Education and Collaboration
We hold Move2Learn educational summits and other events to inform teachers, administrators, and community leaders about why getting kids moving sparks learning. Additionally, we conduct teacher training to educate classroom teachers about how to get kids active on the classroom and provide teacher toolkits containing fun, physical activities to get kids active and moving to maximize learning in Title 1 Alexandria classrooms. We also partner with Alexandria’s public schools to provide movement and physical activity for our kids before, during, and after school.
We build and renovate playgrounds in underserved areas of Alexandria, so kids and families are active together. Part of the Move2Learn initiative is to build the fabric of the community and give neighborhoods safe places to play, socialize, and get active.
Mission and Vision
RunningBrooke is THE organization that gets kids moving to spark academic learning in the classroom.
RunningBrooke inspires our city’s* at-risk kids to move, sparking their learning for success in school and life.
All children in our city*, no matter their background or circumstances, are physically active to maximize their capacity for learning and school success.
*City of Alexandria, VA