August 16, 2017

This nonprofit lifts up homeless individuals through running

It started as a simple idea; today Back On My Feet has helped thousands find hope, opportunity, and a new lease on life

Through a program of running and jobs training, Back On My Feet gives members the confidence and the skills to lift themselves out of homelessness. Photo by Ben Ko Photography

Do you ever hear about these amazing organizations that are changing the world and think to yourself, “How did I not know about this?” Here is one to add to that list. Back On My Feet is a national nonprofit that works to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Through the power of running, community support, and access to housing and employment resources, Back On My Feet has touched the lives of more than 6,000 homeless people in America.

Back On My Feet recruits members at homeless and residential facilities and begins with a commitment to run three days a week. These runs start around 5:30 a.m. and range between two to five miles long. The logic behind the initial running phase is the belief that the first step towards success is to restore confidence, strength, and self esteem.

After 30 days of 90 percent commitment, members can start the second phase of the program, Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals, and housing resources. Back On My Feet has multiple national and community partners that work towards the success of the program. A few partners include Accenture, Cigna, Marriott, and Home Depot. Through the hard work and dedication of our partners, Back On My Feet has helped to employ over 2,300 of its members.

Since their launch in 2007, the organization has grown tremendously and is now operating in 12 cities across the nation. The newest chapter opened last fall in San Francisco, and coincided with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Since her appointment in 2015, CEO Katy Sherratt has increased programmatic impact by 60 percent and has grown revenues by 30 percent. She was recently named one of 20 Women Who Are Changing The Sport Of Running (And The World) by Women’s Running. She was first exposed to Back On My Feet through Accenture’s workforce development partnership with the nonprofit. After leaving Accenture and joining the Back on My Feet team, she helped to reshape the organization to be most efficient and effective.

Back On My Feet has demonstrated that something as simple as running can prove to strengthen individuals, build communities, and transform lives. By using running as a catalyst to empower people struggling with homelessness to return to the workforce, the organization has impacted thousands. One story that highlights their success is from a runner named Sandra. Sandra went from living on the streets and no prior running experience to running 10ks, living in her own apartment, and working again. She even claims that getting into the habit of running helped her quit her smoking addiction. Unbelievable transformations such as Sandra’s are truly inspiring.

According to the organization, every $1 invested in Back On My Feet returns $2.50 to the local community by means of economic output and cost savings on temporary shelters, hospitalization costs, medical costs associated with physical inactivity, incarceration costs, and treatment costs for drug and alcohol dependency.

Back On My Feet is always looking for volunteers to run with them at any of their 12 locations. Volunteers usually commit to at least one run a week. For more information, you can check out their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

This article originally appeared on and is reprinted here with permission.

Olivia Gartland


Olivia Gartland is currently a student in Manhattan College School of Business studying Marketing and Computer Information Systems. She has had strong interest in social action throughout her life and continues to actively participate in related opportunities on campus. Read all of her stories on