NE Distance is a New England based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a unique dual mission to promote health and well-being among children while providing support to post-collegiate athletes on a training path to top-level competition. NE Distance established an athlete-in-residence fellowship program in the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 2012, and has since expanded to include the city of Providence as part of its community.
The not-for-profit organization recruits top-level post-collegiate track athletes and provides them with housing, travel stipends, gear, physical therapy and places to train. When they are not training to represent New England at top level meets, each NE Distance athlete fellow works 10-15 hours per week in after-school programs, providing mentorship, coaching, tutoring and living within the community to model good habits for health, fitness, & wellness.
In 2014, NE Distance restarted cross country and outdoor track programs for middle school youth in Woonsocket, a distressed city in Rhode Island with a poverty rate of 26%, after budget cuts shut down both programs in 2009. That Fall, NE Distance brought 50 kids to the RI State Meet.
In 2015, NE Distance partnered with the Public School System of Providence – where the poverty rate is even higher at 29% – to restart middle school cross country programs for all seven of its public middle schools. That Fall, over 250 kids participated. The following Fall, that number grew to over 400.
To coach the newly formed middle school programs, NE Distance recruits some of the nation’s best runners. Their knowledge and experience makes them excellent mentors, allowing them to both teach and inspire the young athletes.
In return, NE Distance provides athletes with the support necessary to train and compete at the elite level: housing, sports medicine, coaching, access to training facilities and a travel stipend to get to attend meets. Athletes are also paid a modest salary for coaching to offset additional living expenses.