COLORADO SPRINGS — Several Olympic athletes are partnering with a local non-profit to help provide more educational opportunities for Black students.
Over the past 90 years, the Sachs Foundation has been providing education and scholarship opportunities to Black residents across Colorado. During this school year, the organization has awarded $2,020,000 to 49 undergrad scholars and $420,000 to 15 graduate scholars.
Since the Black Lives Movement, they've seen a significant rise in financial support and more people donating to organizations that support the Black community. One of their new supporters is Team Boss, a group of Olympic runners.
"My training group was training and watching the Black Lives Matter Movement gain traction and gain national awareness. We felt moved to do something, to step in and elevate the message, and elevate everyone around us and the community," said Aisha Praught-Leer, Team Boss.
For this group, it's not just about sprinting across the finish line.
"We decided to set up a race just amongst our group so we figured we could race each other. We decided to go after the Colorado State Mile Record. We realized okay we are going to set up this race, we all have these individual platforms. As professional athletes what can we do to reach out to the community," said Praught-Leer.
A race to help bring attention to the racial inequalities that many Black students face every day.
"I can speak from personal experience that where you grow up, what school you go to, who your teachers are, who has an influence on your future is a paramount importance," said Praught Leer.
Team Boss partnered with the Sachs Foundation for the race to help raise funds for more scholarships.
"To have a foundation like Sachs that can ignite communities and communities of colors in Colorado is very important work," said Praught-Leer.
"The Sachs Foundation is the oldest education foundation in Colorado. It was founded in 1930 specifically to provide educational opportunities to Black students across the state. That mission was vitally important in 1930 and but is just as important today. There is still a lot of inequality as everyone is discussing and realizing," said Ben Ralston, President of the Sachs Foundation.
While the organization doesn't typically get involved with fundraisers, Ralston says they didn't want to let this particular opportunity pass them by.
"For a couple of reasons we recognized this partnership opportunity. The first is that this is an incredible group of people that have found success on the International level. They are really committed to equity, the mission of the Sachs Foundation was something that when Aisha contacted me I could feel like she was living that kind of mission and her teammates were as well," said Ralston. "Finally, there was a bit of nostalgia involved in that the Sachs Foundation's very first scholar was a middle-distance runner and Olympic hopeful who unfortunately because he was Black did not have the resources to get to the Olympic trials in 1928 even though he qualified for them."
Ralston said the Sachs Foundation ended up funding the runner's entire education.
"When this group of runners contacted us, it reminded us of him and his mission to use track and running as a way to further his education. We felt like it was a great partnership that we could join with," said Ralston.
Team Boss raised around $30,000 from the first race which will go toward scholarships for Black students.
"This year we decided to create one more larger name scholarship which is named the "Team Boss Equity Scholarship" in honor of Team Boss and their effort to break the Colorado Mile. One of the applicants who applied for the scholarship this year was also a track athlete whose father was an Olympian," said Ralston.
The next race will be in September. For those interested in learning more about the Sachs Foundation and its other scholarships, visit the website.