As the Redbud Classic celebrates its 37th year this April, participants will be able to support a cause that touches every single family in Oklahoma City: education. The 2019 race beneficiary is Teach for America Oklahoma City, the local arm of a national organization that finds, develops and supports a network of leaders who expand opportunity to students in every sector.
Art Serna, the executive director of Teach for America Oklahoma City, said the organization’s leaders are “thrilled and overjoyed” at the chance to get more exposure for local education needs through being the race beneficiary.
The Redbud Classic is an annual racing staple in Oklahoma City. Slated for April 6 and 7, the event features runs ranging from a one-mile race for kids to a 10K race. It also includes bike tours at various distances, a relay race and a finish line party. The race’s Board of Directors selects a different beneficiary each year and has given more than $500,000 to local causes since it started in 1983.
Considering last year’s statewide teacher walkout and the various issues facing local education, the choice to select an education-related cause to support this year is particularly timely. Teach for America started in Oklahoma City in 2011, Serna said, with a starting cohort of 50 teachers. They now have a network of nearly 300 alumni and currently serve 5,000 students across 51 schools.
Serna explained Teach for America makes a difference locally by recruiting teachers from across the country to make two-year commitments to low-income classrooms in Oklahoma City. They provide training and resources and recruit top talent to ensure their teachers are making a real difference with local students.
He’s personally heard countless stories of students of all ages who have had their lives vastly improved by Teach for America teachers in recent years. The funds provided to the organization through this year’s race will help further the mission of the organization, he said. One thing the money will help with is recruiting a new cohort of teachers to Oklahoma City. Additionally, it will help fund an annual Shark Tank contest Teach for America hosts to help teachers get funding for their classroom improvement ideas.
Last year’s winner of the Shark Tank contest, for example, had an idea to start a mentoring initiative among black male educators and black male students. Community members heard his pitch and decided to help fund the program, which is now in full swing.
Besides being a great way to support a local non-profit, the Redbud Classic is considered by many to be one of the top family-friendly events of the year. To register for one of the race day events, visit www.redbud.org. There are also many ways to volunteer at the race. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.