Our mission is "Rowing for All" and we make rowing
accessible without regard to individual ability, background, experience, or
income. We enrich lives and our local community by providing rowing and its profound
academic, social, and physical benefits to as many as possible.
Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI) was founded in 1985 by a group of Olympic and National Team rowers who wanted to expand access and increase diversity within rowing. Until then, rowing on the Charles River had been reserved for members of private clubs and students at elite universities. Community Rowing changed all that, opening the river, and its possibilities, to anyone who was interested in taking part.
In 2006, after 20 years of operating from a seasonal facility, CRI launched a $16 million capital campaign to build a year-round boathouse of its own. The campaign experienced extraordinary support and in October 2008, CRI opened the doors to its new Harry Parker Boathouse. The final boathouse construction loan was paid off in 2014.
The impact of the facility has been enormous. The recipient of several prestigious architectural honors, including the “Most Beautiful Building in Boston” award by the Boston Society of Architects, the Harry Parker Boathouse is already a landmark on the river and in the city itself. From well before dawn until after the sun goes down, there is always action at CRI. A visitor might see throngs of teenagers eagerly warming up for their afternoon row; paralyzed adults using their legs for the first time to propel specialized rowing machines; a group of shy high school boys from the Boston public schools going out on the river for the first time; Row Boston youth studying in their classroom overlooking the Charles; or administrative offices bustling with staff and volunteers.
At the root of all of this is a deep commitment, both on the water and off, from people who have been changed by rowing and who believe in the sport’s capacity to improve lives and enhance communities.
With 11,000 rowers, we are the largest and most successful public access rowing organization in the world. Our outreach programs are the backbone of our organization and exemplify our mission of ‘Rowing for All.’ We use a “high challenge/high support” programming model and make a conscious effort to break down any barriers to participation that might arise. Each year, we are proud to reach over 6,000 individuals with our free outreach programs for urban youth, military veterans, and individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities.
Major accomplishment over the last five years include:
1. Over the last 5 years, CRI has introduced more than 16,000 Boston Public School youth to the sport of rowing in our Let’s Row Boston program.
2. In 2018 CRI hosted the largest and most diverse middle school rowing event with over 1,000 youth.
3. Since 1998, 100% of Row Boston participants have graduated from high school and 99% have gone on to a 4-year college or university.
4. CRI is a Gold Level Paralympic Sports Club and in 2016, hosted the selection and training camp for the US Paralympic Legs Trunks and Arms Four with coxswain that won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Program goals for the current year include:
1. Provide numerous high quality rowing programs that align with our mission and core values. Through these programs we will serve more than 9,000 individuals including 1,000 military veterans and service members, 4,500 Boston Public School youth, and 500 individuals with disabilities.
2. Regularly and effectively attract new participants, especially those who live in our community, are not currently involved with rowing, and need access to safe and meaningful physical activity options.
3. Maintain strong finances so that we can continue to provide aid for those who need it and continue to ensure that money is not a barrier to participation in the sport.
1) Expand Middle School Indoor Rowing Program to mitigate obesity epidemic. Each school: $4,600.
2) Invest in study to measure results of all outreach programs. $35,000.
3) Invest in a transportation consultant to determine the best way to transport youth across the City of Boston to our boathouse and mitigate travel at the entrance to our boathouse. $15,000
4) Invest in a communications expert to share our mission with local community. $30,000
5) Invest in strategic planning to determine how best to 1) share the incredible resource of our boathouse with the community; 2) reach the people who will benefit most from the health and social benefits of rowing; and 3) expand on a regional and national level. $70,000.
came to CRI as a coach 22 years ago because it was one of the only rowing
organizations I knew that focused on providing non-elite, public access to the
sport of rowing. That spirit remains today as we have grown into our award-winning
building and advanced programming. When you approach CRI or drive by you can see
that our huge bay doors are open and we provide avenues that meet the interests
of nearly every interest. We are the largest public access organization
in North America and likely the world. We continue to see the tremendous
positive impact that rowing has on our community. It provides life lessons
addressing team work, responsibility, and self-advocacy for middle school kids,
senior citizens and everyone in between.
am excited about the opportunity to serve those who may not otherwise imagine
participating in rowing. We have focused our entire community on helping
our participants succeed in a really supportive and positive environment. By
way of example, those with disabilities can build their physical strength to
become more independent, feel connected to a peer group, and progress in a
group setting at a self-controlled pace. We’ve seen rowers advance from
true beginners to the highest competitive level. We are equally proud to see
our recreational and adaptive rowers return year after year for our
serve a lot of people and make a big impact. On a typical day, 1,000 people may
come through our doors, 96% of whom are serviced by one of 125 coaches who work
at CRI. Last year, we provided over $1 million in free programming to the
community – this support included free programs for over 4,500 Boston Public
School kids, providing access for over 1,000 veterans and members of the armed
services and giving over $430,000 in financial aid to over 700 families and
kids in the surrounding area.
We couldn’t do it without the wonderful support we
receive from our donors and funders. We look forward to fulfilling our mission
and make rowing accessible for all.
- Ted Benford
Board Chair Statement
Rowing is a sport that changes lives. Community Rowing is strong. Our programs are thriving, financial support is healthy, and our reputation as a place of innovation and excellence continues to grow.
What we have accomplished together is simply astounding. We are who we are because of people like you who believe in our mission and engage in our rowing community.
It is a true honor to serve as the Board President of CRI. Thank you for being with us on this incredible journey!
- Lila McCain, President