The Walking Classroom Institute

Walk. Listen. Learn.

aka The Walking Classroom   |   Durham, NC   |  www.TheWalkingClassroom.org

Mission

The mission of The Walking Classroom is to improve the physical, mental, and academic health of children by establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits while building health literacy and core curriculum knowledge. TWCI provides its educational program to as many children and enthusiastic teachers as possible, focusing on low-income schools. Our easy-to-implement program provides extensive teachers' guides and audio players (pre-loaded with 100+ custom-written standards-aligned podcasts), which increase students' activity levels while supporting learning. Our program capitalizes on the link between exercise and cognitive development, addresses the epidemic of childhood inactivity and obesity, and provides teachers a tool to reach students with different learning styles.

Ruling year info

2011

CEO and Co-Founder

Laura Fenn

Executive Director

Debra Ives

Main address

3626 Shannon Road, Suite 101

Durham, NC 27707 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-4477692

NTEE code info

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children who grow up in poverty often have the lowest academic achievement. By age 4, children from low-income families have heard 32 MILLION fewer words than their higher income peers. This language deficit greatly impacts their ability to learn to read because they have no context for what many words mean.

Because children can listen and understand 2-3 grade levels higher than their reading level, The Walking Classroom can help them catch up with their classmates and enjoy success with grade-level activities. It's a bridge to academic content for students whose independent reading skills have not yet caught up with grade-level expectations.

Additionally, students are getting less physical activity than ever. By combining movement with learning through use of The Walking Classroom podcasts, students can get much-needed fresh air and exercise without sacrificing instructional time.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Walking Classroom

The Walking Classroom is a national award-winning nonprofit program and educational tool that works to improve the physical, mental and academic health of elementary school children. By walking, listening and learning regularly throughout the school year, students establish healthy lifestyle habits while building health literacy and core content knowledge. The primary goal of our program is to break the cycle of inactivity and obesity while providing an innovative method of academic engagement at the same time. The method is simple: students walk as a class (usually outside) while listening to the same, custom-written, kid-friendly educational podcast. A school year’s worth of educational podcasts come pre-loaded on mp3-type players called "WalkKits” and each podcast is supported by an extensive lesson plan for the teacher. While all students stand to benefit from using The Walking Classroom and the additional 20 minutes of physical activity that comes with it each time it’s used, children from low-income backgrounds, where low academic achievement and childhood obesity are common, stand to benefit the most. Students are excited to get out of the classroom, and they soon begin to enjoy regular exercise and realize that The Walking Classroom and its effects empowers them

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
At-risk youth

Each STEM program WalkKit audio device comes preloaded with 65 15-minute custom-written, educational and entertaining podcasts on science-related topics.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

National Grade Prize Winner Technology Innovation - ASAP Award a ChildObesity 180 Initiative 2012

Tufts University Institute for Global Leadership

Winner Health Innovation Challenge - BlueCross Blue Shield North Carolina 2012

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Winner Readers' Choice Award - sponsored by eSchool Media 2013

eCampus News

William J. Bennington Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence 2015

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Idea Generation/Next Finalist 2016

United Way

Innovation Award 2017

Triangle Business Journal

Impact Award 2018 2018

Partnership for a Healthier America

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students per teacher during the reporting period

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Ethnic and racial groups, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

The Walking Classroom

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The Average donated class set of audio devices is 32. Purchases are typically a bit smaller at 27 devices. We encourage all educators to share their WalkKit audio devices with another educator.

Number of teachers trained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Ethnic and racial groups, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

The Walking Classroom

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

More frequently, many teachers are being trained to use the program materials that are donated or purchased at schools. This expands the impact of our distributed class sets to more students.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The mission of The Walking Classroom is to help strengthen the physical, mental, and academic health of children by establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits while building their health literacy and core content knowledge. Students go for a walk listening to standards-aligned educational podcasts that come preloaded on a WalkKit audio device, or via our new mobile app. Students Walk. Listen. And Learn.

Our goal is to distribute our program as widely as possible to educators in schools and in before and after school settings. Educators can go to our website and apply for a donated class set of materials. We try to donate to as many teachers as possible from our waiting list, prioritizing public schools where poverty is high and academic achievement is often low. Additionally, we want to make sure that teachers and after school facilitators are well prepared to implement our program, so we provide free online training and many supplemental resources that relate to each podcast.

Another important goal for us is to sustain our organization via sales of our program materials. Program sales generate unrestricted funds for us that can be used to pay salaries, cover operating expenses and make it possible for us to donate materials to more schools.

Teachers and educators can apply for donated sets of Walking Classroom materials. Through grants and product sales, approximately 75% of Walking Classroom materials in use have been donated at no charge to the schools. Of the 780 full class sets of materials of materials donated from 2015 through 2020, about 60% went to public schools where 60% to 100% of the kids were receiving free and reduced lunch—schools where many students are struggling academically. We also recommend that teachers share Walking Classroom materials with other classes to maximize the number of students impacted.

Importantly, use of The Walking Classroom program is growing materially in out-of-school time settings. This is especially important in 2021 as after school and summertime learning programs will be an important setting for learning recovery after a year of virtual school for many students. We provide free online training for all OST facilitators. That training, combined with the companion Teacher's Guide, makes it very easy for OST staff to use the program.

We regularly apply for corporate grants and solicit individual donations to help supplement the number of classroom sets we can donate. We have also achieved out goal of growing product sales to a predictable level each year with the net margin covering most personnel and operating costs. The more products we sell, the more products we can donate.

As of the end of 2020, The Walking Classroom had distributed WalkKit audio devices to educators in all fifty states with approximately 75,000 students benefiting from the use of the program each year. Many of those students are now getting much-needed fresh air and exercise, have increased their health literacy, have improved their grades and standardized test scores, and have a new appreciation for exercise as well as learning.

While we are thrilled with our progress over the past 10 years, there are still millions of students sitting at their desks all day and struggling academically. Our goal is to donated as many WalkKits as possible with the funding and staffing we have available.

Financials

The Walking Classroom Institute
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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The Walking Classroom Institute

Board of directors
as of 5/3/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rachel Mandell

Vice President and General Counsel at KBI Biopharma, Inc.

Term: 2020 -

Chris Harris

Blackbaud

Rani Dasi

Lord Corporation

Rachel Mandell

KBI Biopharma, Inc.

Karen Curtin

Meadowmont Community Association

Deepika Gandhi

Marque360

David Halstead

Joseph Tarica

Cree, Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 08/08/2019

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data