Girls on the Run-Chicago Empowered 10,000+ Girls with 2018 Building Community Award


​Almost two years ago, Girls on the Run–Chicago (GOTRC) won the Gerry Rauenhorst Building Community Award. The annual award, which honors our founder's legacy of giving, provided GOTRC with a gift of $65,000 grant to further its mission of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running and physical activity. 

The innovative GOTR program is available to all girls age eight to 14 in eight Illinois counties, regardless of their families' financial circumstances. It includes a research-based physical, social and emotional health curriculum, as well as healthy goal setting. During the 10-week program, the girls develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. By the end of the program, the girls are physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k run, as well as volunteer as part of a community service project. 

The Building Community Award money funded GOTRC's Access & Inclusion program for 2018 – 19, providing participation opportunities to more than 5,000 girls in low-income, under-resourced communities who otherwise wouldn't have access to GOTR programs. It also provided resources for GOTRC to extend programming to five new schools/sites, effectively reaching 100+ girls who couldn't previously participate. In total, GOTRC programs empowered the lives of more than 10,000 girls across Chicagoland in 2018 – 19.

“The Gerry Rauenhorst Building Community Award was a significant gift for us," said Cathy Kruse, Director of Communications at GOTRC. “The full impact was far-reaching, allowing us to effectively extend access to our programs to thousands of additional girls. We are also grateful to Opus associates who continuously give their time and expertise to support our work, including Kristi  Nichols, Melanie Herbst and everyone who volunteered and handed out medals to the girls as they crossed the 5k finish line in 2018."  

“In addition to all the good that came out of the award, we were amazed at the many awareness-building opportunities during the voting process," she said. “Spreading the word and asking for votes helped us share our mission and work with completely new audiences, generating excitement and possibilities of future engagement. One of our staff members actually encouraged people at her morning bus stop to vote for our organization!" 

The future is bright for GOTR. Providing access to life-changing programs to all girls, regardless of their circumstances, will continue to be a priority going forward. As stated in GOTRC's 20th Anniversary video, they are “building a movement, one girl at a time, that will lift up the next generation of female leaders to boldly pursue their dreams." 


In partnership with the Opus Foundation® in 2015, we launched the Gerry Rauenhorst Building Community award to honor our founder's legacy of giving and celebrate the rich history and tradition of our organization. Learn more.

The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work.