Sports Backers Blog

Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders: The Success of the Active Living Leadership ALL Stars Program

After 31 years of offering a Scholar-Athlete scholarship awards program in partnership with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in 2023 Sports Backers announced that the program had been revamped and rebranded to the Active Living Leadership ALL Stars program. During the 2023-2024 school year, 19 senior scholar-athletes were admitted to the highly competitive program and embarked on a journey to learn about active living beyond their current understanding, with an aim to make a difference in our community through volunteerism and completion of a capstone project. Numerous community leaders poured into these young leaders by attending their educational sessions, serving as mentors, and sharing their knowledge by participating in panel discussions on a range of topics, such as active living inequities and advocacy.

The program was designed to educate these young athletes and help take their passion for sport and use that to inspire others in our community to live actively.  There was a hands on component throughout the program as well. The ALL Star students were expected to get out and experience active living initiatives, volunteer with local non-profits, and ultimately complete a capstone project that would improve active living in our community.

So how did it turn out? Results from our student survey show that we were successful in achieving our program objectives, as shown below:

  • 100% of students indicate they can identify reasons it is important to for scholar-athletes to play a role in active living in their communities.
  • 100% of students indicate they can identify what contributes to, and the benefits of, an active living community.
  • 100% of students indicate that, through the program, they were connected with active living organizations and corporate, government, and non-profit organizations that contribute to an active, vibrant community.
  • 100% of students indicate that, through this program, they explored and identified active living inequities.
  • 90% of students indicate that they were able to make a direct impact on active living opportunities in our community through volunteerism and completion of a capstone project.
  • 70% of students indicated that they felt supported by their crew’s assigned mentors throughout the program.
  • 100% of students indicated that they felt informed, mentored, and supported by the program director.
  • 100% of students indicated that they have a better understanding of the variety of ways that people can choose to live actively.

Those survey results are promising but don’t paint the full picture. One other important objective of the program was to award scholarships that the ALL Star students earned through active participation in the program. During the Awards Show on May 5th, we awarded $70,500 in scholarship funds to the 19 ALL Star scholar-athletes. At the show, each of the crews (teams of 3 to 4 ALL Star students that worked together throughout the program) presented their capstone projects. It was quite impressive to see the range of undertakings and definitely worth sharing:


  • One crew focused on active living within the senior community, ultimately partnering with Senior Connections to host a senior field day.
  • Another crew created a video to share how sports had positively impacted their life and encourage rising Henrico middle schoolers to join a sport. You can check out that video here.
  • One project involved the ALL Stars crew beautifying the entrance of Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary School ahead of the school’s renaming ceremony and planting fragrant plants to encourage students to walk to school.
  • Another group built two garden beds to help improve the outdoor learning space at Chimborazo Elementary School.
  • Lastly, one crew partnered with Greater Richmond Fit4Kids and Richmond Public Schools to design and paint the school’s blacktop to make it more interactive for the students during recess.

As we reflect on the success of the first year of the ALL Stars program, we are simultaneously planning for the next iteration, which officially kicks off on August 24th. This cohort is comprised of 21 students from seven school districts and three private schools. They are some of the top scholar-athletes of our region and they each possess a love of sport and a passion for serving the community. We can’t wait to pour into them throughout their senior year, provide them with opportunities to get engaged with the booming active living community here in the 804, and set them up to be active living advocates in the future.

We can’t do this alone. You know the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”? We are working to create that village of supporters for our ALL Star students – a group of mentors who can help guide them through the program, share their expertise, serve as a sounding board, and support them with the transition from high school to college. We are looking for leaders in our community that have a passion for active living and a willingness to support the next generation of leaders. If you are interested in serving as an ALL Stars mentor for the 2024-2025 school year, please consider applying today.

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