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Piers Park Sailing Center Inc.

 95 Marginal Street
 East Boston, MA 02128
[P] (617) 561-6677 x 101
[F] --
[email protected]
Alex Defronzo
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3411388

LAST UPDATED: 08/07/2018
Organization DBA Piers Park Sailing Center
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Located on the waterfront in East Boston, Massachusetts, the Piers Park Sailing Center (PPSC) is a community sailing center dedicated to providing recreational, educational and personal growth opportunities for people of all ages and abilities through sailing and education on Boston Harbor.

Mission Statement

Located on the waterfront in East Boston, Massachusetts, the Piers Park Sailing Center (PPSC) is a community sailing center dedicated to providing recreational, educational and personal growth opportunities for people of all ages and abilities through sailing and education on Boston Harbor.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Nov 01, 2017 to Oct 31, 2018
Projected Income $429,000.00
Projected Expense $460,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Adaptive Sailing Program
  • Youth Development Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Located on the waterfront in East Boston, Massachusetts, the Piers Park Sailing Center (PPSC) is a community sailing center dedicated to providing recreational, educational and personal growth opportunities for people of all ages and abilities through sailing and education on Boston Harbor.

Background Statement

In 1998, Piers Park Sailing Center took over operation of a sailing facility created by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) as part of its development of Piers Park in East Boston.  The park and sailing center were part of a Massport plan to enhance open space and provide outdoor activities to the communities most heavily affected by Logan Airport. After September 11, 2001, changes in security requirements resulted in Massport withdrawing as the primary funding source for the Center. This presented new challenges in organizational strategy as the Center had to develop an alternative funding structure.  PPSC weathered this challenge and continues its mission to provide services to low-to-moderate income individuals from urban Boston and communities of those living with disabilities across New England.

Prior to the development of Piers Park, East Boston had less dedicated green space than any other Boston neighborhood. The design of a community sailing and waterfront recreation center was a key component of the Piers Park project. Massport has a long term commitment with the Sailing Center to provide a rent free lease for our facilities. PPSC’s uses a fleet of Sonar sailboats as its primary instructional tool. The 23 foot keelboat provides an excellent platform for our adaptive, youth and community programs. The Sailing Center provides direct access to the water and an array of maritime activities for neighborhood residents.
Since its inception, Piers Park has received an Adaptive Environments Award as well as an International Excellence on the Waterfront Award. In 2009, the sailing center became the first organization serving those with disabilities to teach a quadriplegic how to helm a sailboat using Sip & Puff technology. Nearly all of this equipment was developed in-house and remains on the cutting edge of adaptive marine technology. In 2009 & 2010, US Sailing (the national governing body of competitive and recreational sailing) named PPSC as the most Outstanding Program for Disabled Sailors in the nation. In 2013, Piers Park Sailing Center was honored by the Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association for excellence in the field of Adaptive Recreation. Also in 2013, US Sailing presented PPSC with its Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion Award. Best of Boston magazine awarded Piers Park its Best Green Space Award for 2014.

Impact Statement

Our outreach program affects the lives of hundreds of at-risk youth, provides empowerment through our fully accessible sailing facilities for people living with disabilities and acts as a center for waterfront activities for our entire community.

Needs Statement

1. Sailing scholarships to expand our fully inclusive programming to 1,100 Boston youth and adaptive sailors ($544/student/week)

2. Funds to secure additional sailboats to increase capacity (we do not have capacity to serve current demand, Sonar fully equipped cost $28,488/sailboat). 

3. New safety boat (Our maritime skiff is 21 years old this year, replacement cost is $9,400)

4. A better connection with Boston Public Schools through shoulder season (spring and autumn) outreach (program cost is $460/wk per instructor)

5. New rigging for Sonar fleet (also 21 years old, much of the standing rigging has never been replaced, cost is $1,650/boat with a fleet of 12 boats).

CEO Statement

I learned to sail at Piers Park Sailing Center as a child.  The inclusive youth development program had such a profound impact on me that I pursued educational and professional opportunities in nonprofit management.  I worked for five years in human services, serving at-risk Massachusetts youth and completed my Master's in Public Administration at Suffolk University.  I returned to Piers Park Sailing Center in 2017 as Executive Director, having aligned the experience of my youth with my goals going forward, and hope to build on and expand the impact of this organization, maximizing potential for the youth of Boston. 

Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-East Boston Neighborhood
Massachusetts-All Regions
Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods

Piers Park Sailing Center serves youth from East Boston and surrounding communities, and people of all ages living with disabilities from across New England.

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. Human Services - Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations
  3. Public & Societal Benefit - Alliances & Advocacy

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Adaptive Sailing Program

The Adaptive Program at PPSC fulfills the need to see and explore the possibilities for life, recreation and hope for those coping with developmental issues, chronic medical conditions or whose lives have been altered by serious injury. PPSC’s objectives are to empower people living with disabilities to realize goals and to develop necessary life, mobility and social integration skills, while learning about and enjoying the challenging and rewarding sport of sailing. There are few alternatives for disabled people to participate in sports, and fewer still that provide the opportunity to participate equally with able-bodied athletes.

Budget  $127,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Services for Individuals with Disabilities
Population Served People/Families with of People with Disabilities People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities People/Families with People of Developmental Disabilities
Program Short-Term Success  The short term succeses of the Adaptive Sailing Program are evaluated over the course of the six month sailing season. Each season, PPSC empowers over 300 people who may be deaf, blind, non-verbal and cognitively or those living with physical disabilities. We serve all diagnoses and ages. By teaching participants to be in the command of the boat and to learn the boat, we offer more empowerment value than programs which are merely based on boat rides.
Program Long-Term Success  Over one thousand people with disabilities have been served by this program since 2007. Many of our adaptive sailors began in our Learn to Sail program, progressed into racing and now are competing internationally with hopes of a Paralympic dream.
Program Success Monitored By  The success of the Adaptive Sailing Program is monitored by a subcommittee of the Board of Directors, the Adaptive Sailing Committee. This group of stakeholders monitors the success of the program and sets annual strategic goals.
Examples of Program Success  In just under five years, PPSC has been selected as a Paralympic Sport Club by the USOC, twice awarded Most Outstanding Disabled Sailing Program by US Sailing and has been honored by the Greater Boston Chapter of National Spinal Cord Injury Association.

Youth Development Program


Since 1998, Piers Park Sailing Center has been confronting the issue of limited access to personal growth opportunities for Boston’s underserved youth. The mission of the Inclusive Youth Development Program is to use sailing as a catalyst to empower at-risk youth and youth living disabilities to develop leadership skills, promote healthy living and to educate local youth about the environment and history of Boston Harbor through S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) curriculum in an inclusive environment. Youth Program participants are ages 6-18 from the low-income, diverse neighborhoods of East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Dorchester and other disadvantaged communities of urban Boston. The Inclusive Youth Development Program operates with an annual program budget of $232,000. The outcomes to be achieved are:

1. Combat summer learning loss by engaging participants with S.T.E.M. case studies integrated into the sailing experience

2. Provide dynamic, outdoor recreation programming for 1,100 underserved youth from Boston at no cost to participants

3. Promote an empowering and inclusive program environment with at least 250 youth living with disabilities participating alongside their same age peers

4. Develop healthier lifestyles by providing free and nutritious meals along with health and wellness education daily

The program is managed by PPSC senior staff and takes place at Piers Park in East Boston and throughout the waters of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. Piers Park Sailing Center works to reach its goals through three seasons of programming held from April through November.

Budget  $232,000.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Leadership
Population Served At-Risk Populations People/Families with of People with Disabilities Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success  In 2014, the Youth Development Program at Piers Park Sailing Center served nearly 1,051 Boston youth with empowering programming.
Program Long-Term Success  The Youth Development Program at Piers Park Sailing Center has been providing sustainable, leadership and adventure education programming to the underserved youth of Greater Boston since 1998. Thousands of local youth have benefited from our empowering programming that builds character, confidence, leadership and the ability to work as part of a team.
Program Success Monitored By 

Piers Park Sailing Center was awarded a grant to participate in the PRISM 2.0 Improvement & System Measurement program led by Boston After School & Beyond. The independent evaluation scored PPSC above the city wide average in three categories: Population Served, Youth Skill Building & Development and Program Management Practices.

Seasonal performance measurement and evaluation is led by the Board Chair, Executive Director and relevant program directors. The committee uses unique program performance and social impact indicators to track performance of outcomes across the organization’s diverse programs. The data used for tracking program performance includes number of applicants, average length of programming, number of beneficiaries served, percentage of participants who complete program, number of beneficiaries experiencing targeted outcomes, percentage beneficiary satisfaction, qualitative interview data and cost per participant served. Science education performance indicators include:

  1. Youth develop interest in S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.M. learning activities
  2. Youth develop capacities to productively engage in S.T.E.M. learning activities
  3. Youth come to value the goals of STEM and STEM learning activities
Late in the Fall, the Program Evaluation Committee completes their evaluation that identifies opportunities to improve program impact and efficiency.
Examples of Program Success  The Inclusive Youth Development Program provided S.T.E.M. education to 1,051 youth including 229 youth living with disabilities in 2014. Youth showed an increased interest and knowledge in science, sailing and Boston Harbor.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

As we overcome two years of financial challenges we have a renewed spirit and reinvigorated board and community of volunteers. Our strengths shine through in our history of serving the community and we see opportunity in spring and autumn season programming in future years, with expanded outreach to school and community groups.  


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Alex John DeFronzo
CEO Term Start Apr 2017
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

Alex DeFronzo holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University.  Before Piers Park Sailing Center, DeFronzo worked in nonprofit management for the Northeastern Family Institute, serving at-risk Massachusetts youth.  DeFronzo is dedicated to the mission of the Sailing Center and was a participant in the inclusive youth program as a child.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Mr. Matthew L. Rosa Sept 2008 July 2010
Mr. Theodore Coates July 2007 Aug 2008

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Gray Harrington Head Instructor Gray Harrington joined Piers Park Sailing Center in the Fall of 2010. Gray previously taught sailing to adults, students and youth on the Charles River at Boston University. She majored in Philosophy and Music Theory as a student-athlete for the Boston University Sailing Team.  Gray learned to sail off the coast of North Carolina at the Cape Fear Yacht Club.
Mr. Daniel Moreno Operations Director

Moreno holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has been a resident of East Boston since emigrating from Colombia in 1996.

Moreno crewed for several Boston Harbor ships, honing skills in marine maintenance to big-boat racing. As a sailing instructor and lesson coordinator for PPSC, Moreno skippered sails for patients from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Charlestown and youth groups from a number of local adaptive schools and organizations.


Award Awarding Organization Year
Youth Program Impact East Boston Project Advisory Committee 2017
Best Green Space Best of Boston Magazine 2014
Excellence in Adaptive Recreation Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association 2013
Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion US Sailing 2013
Most Oustanding Program for Disabled Sailors US Sailing 2010
Most Oustanding Program for Disabled Sailors US Sailing 2009
Excellence in Adaptive Design American Institute of Architects 2003


Affiliation Year
United States Olympic Committee 2012
United States Olympic Committee 2010
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year


Piers Park Sailing Center proudly collaborates with the following organizations: Access Sport America, Alexander Graham Bell Association, Boston Harbor Association, Boston Public Schools, Braintree Rehabilitative Hospital, Chelsea Public Schools, Community Boating Inc, Community Rowing Inc, Sailing Center, Department of Conservation & Recreation, EMARC, Excel Academy, Home for Little Wanderers, Jett Foundation, Massport, Project Bread, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, Spaulding Rehabilitative Hospital, United States Coast Guard, USSailing and the YMCA Greater Boston.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 25
Number of Volunteers 72
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 90%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 16
Hispanic/Latino: 7
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 20
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr. Brett Van Gelder
Board Chair Company Affiliation Microsoft
Board Chair Term Jan 2008 - June 2018
Board Co-Chair Mr. John Peter Dunn
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation Retires
Board Co-Chair Term Jan 2017 - Jan 2018

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Timothy Brown Solstice Voting
Mr. Michael Bruno Community Power Ventures Voting
Mrs. Mary Cole Retired Voting
Mrs. Susan Menino Fenton Boston Celtics Voting
Mr. Tim Gover Navy Blue Cruise Voting
Mr. Michael Hansen Deloitte Voting
Ms. Maureen McKinnon US Sailing Voting
Mr. Coleman Nee Triangle, Inc. Voting
Mr. Brett Van Gelder Microsoft Voting
Mrs. Shannon Viera HCA Nursing Voting
Mr. Mark Whitney Esq. Whitney Law Group Voting
Mrs. Johanna Young Gibson Sotheby's International Realty Voting
Mrs. Melanie Zurek Provide Inc. Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 13
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 6
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 6
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Finance
  • Program / Program Planning
  • Special Events (Golf Tournament, Walk / Run, Silent Auction, Dinner / Gala)

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Nov 01, 2017 to Oct 31, 2018
Projected Income $429,000.00
Projected Expense $460,000.00
Form 990s

2017 990

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2017 Audit

2016 Review

2015 Review

2014 Review

2013 Review

2012 Review

2011 Review

2010 Review

2009 Review

2008 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $497,173 $220,154 $322,872
Total Expenses $276,631 $302,611 $444,083

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $84,320 $13,440 $81,766
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- $78,266
    Local -- -- $3,500
    Unspecified $84,320 $13,440 --
Individual Contributions $271,301 $113,530 $144,263
Indirect Public Support -- $0 --
Earned Revenue $70,714 $25,033 $33,620
Investment Income, Net of Losses $66 $61 $873
Membership Dues $58,018 $62,857 $54,597
Special Events $12,754 $5,233 $7,753
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- $0 --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $212,011 $240,022 $361,319
Administration Expense $39,226 $34,070 $37,803
Fundraising Expense $25,394 $28,519 $44,961
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.80 0.73 0.73
Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 79% 81%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 7% 22% 19%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $247,177 $95,034 $125,648
Current Assets $164,622 $7,939 $20,528
Long-Term Liabilities $22,863 $78,896 $23,000
Current Liabilities $7,949 $20,522 $24,693
Total Net Assets $216,365 $-4,384 $77,955

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? Anticipated In 3 Years
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 20.71 0.39 0.83

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 9% 83% 18%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS Form 990s for FY17 and FY16 and per the reviewed financials for FY15.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Piers Park Sailing Center will empower the community through inclusive sailing and education programs.  We will end the elitism associated with the sport of sailing and make it accessible to the children of Boston, persons living with disabilities, and those that otherwise would not have access to the waterfront.  
We measure our success in the impact our program has on members of our community.  We know we are successful when:
  1. Children learn to swim who otherwise would not as a result of our programming.
  2. Children prioritize the importance of environmental health in post-program surveys.
  3. Youth in our Future Leader program become program instructors.
  4. Instructors go on to pursue professional and educational opportunities to serve others in the public, nonprofit, or philanthropic sectors.
  5.  We build a cadre of active members in our programs that become ambassadors for a healthier and more vibrant East Boston. 
By May 1, 2018, we will refocus our organizational objectives to focus not on numbers alone, but also on impact (meaningful changes that fulfill the lives of those that we serve).

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

  1. Ongoing in 2017, we are expanding outreach to the growing population of first generation South American immigrant children living in East Boston.  Our Director of Operations emigrated from Columbia as a child and is building inroads with elementary age youth to engage them in our shoulder season and summer programming. 
  2. We are partnering with other nonprofit organization to build community wellness, including the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Anna DeFronzo Senior Center, Zumix, East Boston Social Centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and public and charter schools of East Boston.
  3. By May 1, 2019 we will graduate more than 40 youth from our Future Leader program to become community ambassadors. 

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

  1. Piers Park Sailing Center is home to the only dock on Boston Harbor that is 100% accessible by people of any level of mobility, regardless of the tide.  We are the foremost experts on inclusive sailing programming.
  2. We have a two-decade long record of improving community wellness in East Boston.
  3. Our entire leadership and senior staff were early participants in our youth development program and bring mission-driven understanding and passion to the program. 
  4. We are a diverse team that understands and solicits feedback on the needs of our community. 
  5. We have a mobilize force of more than 70 volunteers and regularly meet with and coordinate with other leaders and organizations in our community.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

  1. We will use evidence based programming (US Sailing STEM REACH curriculum). 
  2. We will measure our impact internally through pre and post program surveys.
  3. We will partner with Suffolk University and Northeastern University to provide third party research of our program outcomes and impact. 

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

  1. We have rallied community support after major changes in leadership and financial status at the organization.
  2. We have hired an Executive Director and Operations Director that are graduates of our programming and dedicated to the mission, vision, and values of our organization. 
  3. We have alumni that have chosen public sector work including rehabilitation nurses, state senators, human service advocates, mobility research and designers, paralympic gold medalists, and more.