Students Run Philly Style (“SRPS”) will be commemorating its tenth year and honoring Jim Paterno at the 2014 Extra Mile Celebration on November 13, 2014 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. SRPS is a mentorship and long distance running program for 12-18 year olds in Philadelphia. Under Jim’s leadership as the founding Chairman of the Board, and volunteer running coach, the program grew from 300 students to a city-wide movement with a budget of over $1M, serving nearly 1,000 students per year.
SRPS’s innovative model of pairing mentorship with marathon running has transformed the lives of thousands of youth across Philadelphia. The program produces measurable outputs, demonstrating that the pairing of long distance running and mentorship is an effective vehicle for improving health, academic achievement and preparation of our city’s future workforce.
In addition to Jim’s participation, Stockton Real Estate Advisors’ Kevin Farley and Michael Dolan have also been active participants of SRPS. Kevin has been involved with the program since 2008 as a team leader and volunteer. Kevin has run alongside his students in three Philadelphia marathons and has mentored his team members throughout their transition from middle school to college. As a volunteer running coach and Generation Run sponsor, Mike trained and taught the students different running techniques and ways to pace and focus during their runs.
Visit SRPS’ website to learn more about becoming a running mentor or sponsorship opportunities. Please read the following letter from Heather McDanel that speaks more about Jim’s involvement with SRPS.
A letter from Heather McDanel
Jim Paterno is one of Philadelphia’s most respected business leaders. He is known for his tenacious drive, and his laser focus on results. Jim’s professional capability and accomplishments alone set him apart, but it is the strength of his character and depth of his conviction to giving back to the community of Philadelphia that truly makes him an outstanding board chair. It is impossible upon meeting Jim to remain unmoved by his integrity, his humility and the authenticity of his belief that while being successful in business one can also have a uniquely profound impact on the world. This quality is what drives people to respect Jim in his professional and volunteer life, and why it has been such an honor to work with him as the first and only Chair of the organization I founded ten years ago.
When Jim was introduced to Students Run Philly Style, an organizational structure did not exist, and the “board” was non-existent. Jim spearheaded the efforts to create governance documents and bylaws for the board. He also led the team that negotiated the management contract with our parent company.
Jim led the effort to assess the skill set of the original group of “advisors”, identifying the gaps Students Run Philly Style needed to be long term sustainable and created a target list for board participation. The end result was a fully fledged Advisory Board with specific and clear expectations for participation and fundraising.
Jim also pushed the staff and board to look at best practices and create a healthier revenue mix for unforeseen circumstances. Together we created a fundraising plan that would include corporate, individual, and earned income sources, in addition to private foundations. In two years time, the revenue mix for Students Run Philly Style went from 100% private foundation funding to 60% foundation funding, 25% corporate funding, 10% funding from individuals and 5% funding from earned income. Jim personally raised more than $1M for Students Run Philly Style during his six years with the organization.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about his role in the organization is his commitment to the students we serve. He not only created the structure and facilitated the entire growth trajectory for Students Run Philly Style, He also served as a volunteer running leader, mentoring many young people along the way. Jim’s mentees have been changed by his role in their life in ways that go much farther than any finish line they have crossed together. He has crossed many finish lines with his students – mentoring them through the grueling (and incredibly rewarding) journey of running a marathon. But he has also spent countless hours with his students outside of running, taking the time to get to know them and being consistent in a way many other adults in their life have not. He expects greatness from them, but most importantly he truly believes they can achieve that greatness.
Jim’s vital leadership and business savvy has guided Students Run Philly Style to be one of the most successful youth serving organizations in this city. Susan Sherman, President of the Independence Foundation and former Students Run Philly Style Advisory Board member states, “I have participated in non-profit boards for nearly two decades. Jim Paterno is one of the most effective board chairs I have ever seen. Under his leadership, Students Run Philly Style went from a start-up to one of the most respected and admired organizations for youth in the city.”
Jim’s results driven orientation in his business has translated into significant results for our students as he demanded results from our organization. The data speaks for itself – youth who participate in Students Run Philly Style lower their Body Mass Index, improve their cardiovascular fitness, improve their self-esteem and improve their academic performance. 73% of our students improve their attendance in school, 84% of our students maintain or improve their grades, and 90% of our students graduate. Jim has given this power of possibility to over 4,000 youth in Philadelphia.
Jim Paterno’s mark on Students Run Philly Style, and thus the entire city, is great. He has spent his life building a business and building a platform for the future by showing our youth they are capable of achieving greatness.