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Charles River Conservancy Inc

 43 Thorndike Street, S3-3
 Cambridge, MA 02141
[P] (617) 608-1410
[F] --
www.thecharles.org
crc@thecharles.org
Renata von Tscharner
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INCORPORATED: 2000
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3503656

LAST UPDATED: 02/22/2017
Organization DBA CRC
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

The Charles River Conservancy (CRC) is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, working to make this extraordinary public resource more active, attractive and accessible for all.

The Charles River Reservation’s Lower and New Basins include 20 miles of shoreline, from the new harbor locks in Boston to the Watertown Dam, and more than 30 parks and green spaces along the way. The “ribbon of green and blue” of the urban river and its parklands give residents and visitors alike an enduring sense of place and a refuge for recreation, contemplation, and renewal. 

The staff and volunteers of this small but effective public-interest organization work together towards this shared vision of renewing our urban river parklands, which have the potential to be world-class parks. Building on the legacy of landscape architect and visionary Charles Eliot, the CRC focuses on providing what he called a, “democratic common ground for the enjoyment of all.”  

Mission Statement

The Charles River Conservancy (CRC) is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, working to make this extraordinary public resource more active, attractive and accessible for all.

The Charles River Reservation’s Lower and New Basins include 20 miles of shoreline, from the new harbor locks in Boston to the Watertown Dam, and more than 30 parks and green spaces along the way. The “ribbon of green and blue” of the urban river and its parklands give residents and visitors alike an enduring sense of place and a refuge for recreation, contemplation, and renewal. 

The staff and volunteers of this small but effective public-interest organization work together towards this shared vision of renewing our urban river parklands, which have the potential to be world-class parks. Building on the legacy of landscape architect and visionary Charles Eliot, the CRC focuses on providing what he called a, “democratic common ground for the enjoyment of all.”  

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2016 to Sept 30, 2017
Projected Income $770,820.00
Projected Expense $770,172.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Advocacy
  • Conservancy Volunteers
  • Lynch Family Skatepark
  • Sunday Parkland Games
  • Swim Park Project

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

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


Overview

Mission Statement

The Charles River Conservancy (CRC) is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, working to make this extraordinary public resource more active, attractive and accessible for all.

The Charles River Reservation’s Lower and New Basins include 20 miles of shoreline, from the new harbor locks in Boston to the Watertown Dam, and more than 30 parks and green spaces along the way. The “ribbon of green and blue” of the urban river and its parklands give residents and visitors alike an enduring sense of place and a refuge for recreation, contemplation, and renewal. 

The staff and volunteers of this small but effective public-interest organization work together towards this shared vision of renewing our urban river parklands, which have the potential to be world-class parks. Building on the legacy of landscape architect and visionary Charles Eliot, the CRC focuses on providing what he called a, “democratic common ground for the enjoyment of all.”  

Background Statement

It all began around 1998, when Renata von Tscharner, an architect and urban planner, found herself inspired while teaching at Harvard’s Radcliffe Seminars. She had given her landscape students an assignment to design spaces along the Charles River; in the process she realized that what these parklands needed was someone to advocate for physical parkland improvements, improved public access, and to build awareness about the River.

“I started the Conservancy because I love the Charles and I wanted to get many more people involved in taking care of the parklands and making the river swimmable,” says von Tscharner.

Since 2000, von Tscharner’s passion, combined with a strategic vision and tireless work, has translated into an organization whose advocacy efforts, care for and maintenance of the parkland have made noticeable improvements. Von Tscharner has worked tenaciously to make the Charles River Parklands more active, attractive and accessible for all of us.

The Charles River Conservancy believes that parks are more than simply amenities; they are necessary for healthy urban living. The water vistas offer respite, but require access and places to linger. The many miles of waterfront pathways offer unique opportunities for walkers, runners, inline skaters and bicyclists, but the paths and the maintenance are often inadequate, and the lack of continuity reduces safety and pleasure. The Conservancy is working to fix these issues and make the Charles River Reservation a world class urban parkland. 


Impact Statement

The Charles River Conservancy strives to make the Charles River parklands more active, attractive and accessible. The Conservancy takes on challenges it believes will improve the river and its parklands for all of us. This past year was no exception: 

• The Lynch Family Skatepark: after over a decade of planning and fundraising, the skatepark opened in Fall 2015.  It was observed that the skatepark "may be the most heavily used park per square foot in the Commonwealth." The Conservancy has partnered with Youth Empowerment Services to provide service opportunities to young skateboarders.

Swim Park Project: After 3 years of holding successful community swims in the Charles River, the Conservancy commissioned a feasibility study from professionals at Stantec and a bathymetric survey (sonar scan) from Childs Engineering. Both demonstrates the potential at North Point Park as a location for a permanent swim park. After the 4th annual Community Swim in 2016, where nearly 300 people jumped in, and a successful crowdfunding campaign, next steps include public design charrettes and water quality testing and analysis, which the Conservancy has secured funding for a graduate student to perform.
 
Conservancy Volunteers: we have maintained our strong volunteer presence on the banks of the Charles, with over 2,000 volunteers cleaning, painting, and pruning at 65 service events throughout the year. Through these events we have engaged students from elementary age through college, community members, and employees of corporate supporters.  

Advocacy: In 2014, the campaign for MassDOT to build underpasses into its bridge rehabilitation plans took a major leap forward. In early fall, we received word that MassDOT had given the go-ahead for an underpass for the Anderson Bridge to be designed--and expressed additional support for underpasses at the River St. and Western Ave. bridges. This progress was a monumental step forward after 5+ years of advocacy work. At the end of 2016, the Mass Historical Commission gave the green light to proceed with the design. The Conservancy will continue to call upon a strong coalition to ensure construction of all three underpasses.

Sunday Parkland Games: the Conservancy continued its summer tradition of holding games on Sunday afternoons along the river.  In 2016, its eighth season, the Games were held in two parks -- North Point Park in East Cambridge and Herter Park in Allston -- allowing the Conservancy to welcome hundreds of families who enjoyed the parklands, recreational activities and yoga.

• Riversing: Together with Revels (best known for the Christmas Revels) the Conservancy started a tradition in the early 2000s to celebrate the autumnal equinox with a communal sing at the Weeks Bridge. This event has grown into an annual tradition called "Riversing," eagerly attended by thousands every year, for which Revels continue to provide the artistic programming today. 

Needs Statement

Needs Statement 

1.     The Conservancy needs a special fund to transition the organization from a volunteer president to a paid executive director with an expected annual salary of $125,000.

2.     The Conservancy needs a Grant Researcher & Writer, at an expected annual salary of $40-55,000.

3.     The Conservancy needs an events coordinator at an expected annual salary of $40-55,000.

4.     The Conservancy needs additional board members. Current board members are highly engaged in the CRC's programs and advocacy efforts. However, we hope to add individuals to our board who have expertise in event planning, fundraising, law, technology, and public-private partnerships.

5.     The Conservancy needs assistance in starting an endowment campaign for the organization’s financial sustainability.

6.     The Conservancy needs new office space with no less than 12 workstations, two private offices, one small and one large conference room. We are seeking discounted or donated space in which to relocate our team. It is important that this space be near public transit. If not donated, the estimated cost of new office space is $50 – to $70,000 per year.  


CEO Statement

 

 

I live near the Charles River, and many Sunday walks took me to its banks. I realized how much this river meant to me, and how much joy the verdant banks added to my life. I biked on the pathways. I inline skated on Memorial Drive when it was closed on Sundays. I windsurfed out of Community Boating. I took my children to picnics in Herter Park.

In the late 1990s, it became clear to me that the urban Charles River Parklands needed a voice. Not just my voice, but thousands of concerned citizens. The first step in the founding of the Charles River Conservancy was formulating that need and identifying the tasks and skills needed to address them. As a city planner whose career had focused on public spaces and urban livability, this challenge seemed a good match for my experience and passion. It also seemed like an excellent opportunity to translate good European urban planning practices into my new country, where innovation and tenacity are welcome. Such a challenging task needs many minds and hands, as well as funding. Recruiting committed and experienced board members was my first task. I was fortunate to quickly enlist talented professionals who helped formulate a vision and build an organization.

 

 


Board Chair Statement

I first came to Boston for college and quickly discovered that walking along the riverbanks of the Charles was one of the great joys of student life.  Its meandering flow provided hours of happy procrastination and discovery, with a bonus of gorgeous, mind-expanding views. Returning to the city years later, I joined the Advisory Board of the Conservancy because I wanted to learn more about this extraordinary resource and help protect and enhance its beauty. In my work with the CRC, I am inspired by the vision of our founder, the tireless energy and creativity of our young staff, and the deep dedication of my colleagues on the board. One of the highlights has been the ribbon-cutting of the Lynch Family Skatepark in North Point Park in November 2015. On that windy morning, we proved that this team can overcome any obstacle, and that achieving our mission makes all the effort worthwhile.


Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
Greater Boston Region-Allston / Brighton Neighborhood
GREATER BOSTON REGION, MA
City of Boston- Allston/ Brighton
METROWEST REGION, MA
City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)
City of Boston- Beacon Hill/ West End
City of Boston- Charlestown
City of Boston- Back Bay
City of Boston- Downtown

City of Boston, City of Cambridge, City of Watertown, City of Newton

Organization Categories

  1. Environment - Environmental Beautification
  2. Community Improvement, Capacity Building - Alliances & Advocacy
  3. Recreation & Sports -

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

Under Development

Programs

Advocacy

A key component of the CRC’s mission is advocacy for the parklands and the bridges within them. Our efforts focus on advocating for increased or alternative park funding and on crafting and commenting on legislation and construction that affect the parklands. As part of our advocacy initiatives, we seek to educate elected and appointed officials, as well as the general public about the needs and opportunities of these important green spaces and the need for adequate park funds to maintain them.

Advocacy, education and public outreach are often intertwined. Establishing and maintaining close working relationships with like-minded advocates and the media are crucial for success. The staff and directors, along with CRC supporters, all play a role in this advocacy effort. Writing emails and letters, briefing policy makers, appearing at hearings, attending meetings, and active engagement on social media are all important components of our advocacy program for the Charles and its parklands.

 

Budget  $70,000.00
Category  Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Infrastructure
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 

Advocacy for the Parklands takes many forms, some of which have already shown results. The CRC serves a valuable role as a watchdog, helping all parties with an interest in the parklands to work harder for creative solutions to existing problems. Significant progress has already resulted from these advocacy efforts. The CRC has: 

 

  • Secured DCR and MassDOT approval of pedestrian and cycling underpasses at the Anderson Bridge and working closely with MassDOT on the design.
  • Received a letter of acceptance from the Mass Historical Commission for an underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge.
  • Advocated for Community Swims, which have brought over 1,200 people into the water from 2013-2017.
  • Improved access to the water’s edge through support of pathway and parkland renovations, as well as through invasive species removal as part of our Conservancy Volunteers program.
  • Established an agreement with the Dept. of Conservation & Recreation for the operation and upkeep of the Lynch Family Skatepark that was developed and funded by the CRC.
  • Actively monitored and commented on MassDOT’s I-90 Project for the potential to open connections to surrounding communities and create new parkland.

 

Program Long-Term Success 

The CRC’s advocacy efforts focus on finding new ways to make the parklands more user-friendly. The pathways along the river have huge potential for commuting and recreation, especially given the growing popularity of bicycles in the area. While the Esplanade’s Hatch Shell is already an established event venue, areas such as Herter Park’s Publick Theatre offer great opportunities for drawing people to the Charles. As significant new state construction projects are planned, there will be opportunities to work with those agencies to create new improvements for the parklands. The CRC will continue to ensure that the community benefits from private developments along the water.

 

Program Success Monitored By 

The CRC has a full-time project manager who writes e-blasts, website updates, and social media posts on such efforts as the addition of bridge underpasses. An advocacy committee of directors and advisors oversees and evaluates the efforts.

We gauge our program success by:

 

  1. Evaluating the growth and strength of coalitions
  2. Asking our volunteers and partners for feedback
  3. Tracking media hits
  4. Following social media engagement and response

 

Examples of Program Success 

After six years of focused advocacy for pedestrian/bicycle underpasses, program success was recently demonstrated through a coalition of twelve community groups, MassDOT and DCR overseeing the design of a pedestrian/bicycle underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge. In 2015, the CRC secured MassDOT’s support for pedestrian/bicycle underpasses at three locations along the Charles, and for the immediate design of the first such underpass. Through careful and thoughtful design, crafted with the feedback of many community partners, the CRC was able to gain the support of DCR in this crucial venture, enabling MassDOT to take a critical next step in the approval process—submission to the Mass Historical Commission (MHC).

In Dec. 2016, MHC ruled that they accept the "adverse effect" of constructing an underpass, and gave MassDOT authorization to proceed with the design process, without formal consultation. The MHC has requested that DCR, the CRC, and several other groups work together to develop a Memorandum of Agreement as to how to mitigate the adverse effect, with both architectural and landscape design.


Conservancy Volunteers

 

The Conservancy Volunteers Program started in 2002 with a grant from the George H. and Jane A. Mifflin Memorial Foundation and the support of MDC employee Alan Morris. This program is widely regarded as one of the premier volunteer opportunities in Greater Boston. Combining environmental education, hands-on learning, and active participation in landscaping, the program allows participants to experience the outdoors and give back to the community. Many have discovered that volunteering with the Conservancy is a great way to meet new people and gain valuable experience while participating in a life-enriching experience that enhances community resources.

The Conservancy Volunteers program invites corporations and individuals of all ages and ability levels to come together for a day of community service and environmental stewardship. Volunteer projects include leaf raking and shoreline cleaning, planting bulbs, painting benches and railings, removing invasive plants, and pruning trees.

 

Budget  $120,000.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Environmental & Urban Beautification
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 

 

Each year, some 2000 Conservancy volunteers remove many invasive plants; organize a highly successful and over-subscribed Earth Day clean-up; restore shorelines; paint railings and up to 250 benches; maintain and widen pathways, plant daffodil bulbs; and host more than 50 volunteer events. All volunteer events are designed to encourage both individual and group participation.

In addition to the concrete successes described above, the CRC's volunteer events are helping to build a constituency for whom the knowledge gained and the connection made with the Charles River leaves a lasting impression that brings with it a desire to return to the River again and again and to serve as advocates for it when needed. 

Program Long-Term Success 

  • Volunteer projects and events improve the landscape for the many individuals who live near or visit the River. They also build awareness of and appreciation for these public assets and their importance to urban living. The goal is to turn our volunteers into advocates.
  • Working along the River, Conservancy Volunteers experience the beauty of this recreational asset and are more likely to become active parkland users.
  • The Conservancy's close and successful working relationship with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the municipal Conservation Commissions enables us to take on some larger-scale landscape projects. One such effort includes replacing invasive knotweed with native plants.

 

Program Success Monitored By 

A full-time CRC staff member oversees all the activities of the Conservancy Volunteers program. The CRC tracks the number of people who have volunteered, total service time donated, and the monetary value of that work. The CRC also looks at completed projects, miles of maintained parklands, capital improvements and numbers of daffodil bulbs planted.

 

The large number of repeat volunteers--both individuals and organizations--is a testimony to the program’s success. DCR staff and local Conservation Commissions, the groups that provide the permits for our volunteer events, also provide important feedback. DCR staff also actively participate in planning volunteer events.

Examples of Program Success 

Between 2002 and 2016, more than 25,000 volunteers contributed an estimated $1.8 million of donated labor, and 350 companies have chosen to work with the Conservancy. Many volunteers come year after year, and also make monetary contributions to the Conservancy. More than 2,500 young people have participated in landscape volunteer work and received environmental education.


Lynch Family Skatepark

 

In 2001, the Conservancy began to advocate for the development of a public skatepark and in 2004 began major fundraising efforts. Over the next ten years, the Conservancy worked in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to design, plan, and permit the Lynch Family Skatepark, located under the ramps next to the Zakim Bridge in East Cambridge. The Lynch Family Skatepark, a 36,000 square-foot accessible facility designed by Stantec, was constructed in 2015 by Valley Crest Landscape Developers and California Skateparks. Over 2,000 athletes attended the opening of the skatepark in November 2015. 

Budget  $2,750,000.00
Category  Recreation & Sports, General/Other Recreation & Sports, General/Other
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success 

 

The CRC involved more than 400 skateboarders in the design process. This education and outreach effort, made possible by a grant from the Boston Foundation, led to a world-class design that incorporated iconic skating spots from around the Boston area, and helped the CRC get the full support of elected and appointed officials on the local and state levels.

The skatepark site is located on an environmentally contaminated brownfield, requiring additional permits as well as strict construction procedures. In addition to capping contaminated soil with an all-ages athletic venue, the skatepark site contains multiple easements and required the permitting and partnership of a dozen agencies, ranging from local municipalities to private corporations to the Federal Highway Administration.

The many site constraints, public input, and the inclusion of tributes to local landmarks and skating elements for all ages were all incorporated into a world-class facility by Stantec. The Lynch Family Skatepark is a “wheel-friendly” park with bowls, ramps, transitions, and street skating elements for all kinds of users – skateboarders, roller skaters, bmxers and more. The skatepark is accessible for wheelchair athletes, and has been called the “most heavily used park per square foot in the Commonwealth.”

 

Program Long-Term Success 

The Lynch Family Skatepark offers a fun, free alternative to more traditional sports, helping children, adolescents, and adults to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. As the largest professionally designed and accessible skatepark in New England, the Lynch Family Skatepark is an amazing addition to the East Cambridge park system, one that greatly promotes activity and continued improvement in the Charles River Basin. The skatepark also serves as a regional attraction for skateboarding competitions and even as an art venue, strengthening the community image and providing an important new opportunity for area youth. This former industrial wasteland surrounded by roads, train tracks, and a gravel processing plant has become an urban playground.

Program Success Monitored By 

 

The skatepark project is managed by the CRC’s full-time projects coordinator and is overseen by Board members. In addition, we have maintained contact with Boston area skaters, and we frequently receive messages of gratefulness and joy as new skaters discover the park every day.

 

Examples of Program Success 

A non-profit organization funding the construction of a public park on state land was an unprecedented venture – no non-profit had built a skatepark of this magnitude before. With a $5,000 seed grant from skater Tony Hawk, the CRC launched a capital campaign. Skateboarders and their parents actively participated in the fundraising, and the State Legislature, the City of Cambridge, and Boston’s Redevelopment Authority all pledged funding support. Despite agency mergers and significant DCR budget cuts, the CRC has sustained the excitement and commitment for this bold idea and been able to turn it into a reality, even getting the attention of skating mainstay Vans footwear, which donated $1.5M to the construction of the park and an additional $25,000 each year for seven years to DCR for maintenance and upkeep. In addition to raising $5.1 million over the course of this project, the Conservancy also received over $1 million in pro-bono legal services from WilmerHale.


Sunday Parkland Games

 

As part of its mission to make the river’s parklands “more active, attractive, and accessible to all” the Charles River Conservancy offers members of the community recreational opportunities along the banks of the river. Since 2009, the Charles River Conservancy has hosted free games and athletic activities designed for the whole family. The CRC contracts with Knucklebones, a private company, to provide both the equipment suitable for all ages and experienced, enthusiastic game leaders. Conservancy staff is also present to answer questions about the organization and our other programs and initiatives. Many attendees are eager to sign up for the Volunteer Program or to help advocate for bridge underpasses. Other partners, such as Karma Yoga and Wellbridge, have offered their help and staff to showcase their offerings.

 

Budget  $25,000.00
Category  Recreation & Sports, General/Other Physical Fitness
Population Served Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Since the start of the Sunday Parkland Games in 2009, we have witnessed countless family members engaging with each other and having a good time. Many groups return Sunday after Sunday, attracted by the sense of community created by the Games, as well as by the colorful equipment and the opportunity to have fun. They also become interested in other CRC projects such as our volunteer program or advocacy efforts. Because of the success of the Sunday Games, the company Knucklebones was also hired by the Esplanade Association to offer games downriver.

 

Program Long-Term Success 

 

The objective is to create the place to go for Sunday fun for all ages, a weekend "home" that is close to home. By providing games, guidance, and enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, this program is designed to promote a healthy and active community now and in the future. The goal is not just to get people out in the parks, but to foster a life-long love for these amazing resources.

 

Program Success Monitored By 

The Sunday Parkland Games are organized and overseen by a part-time CRC staff member who attends all sessions. This person tracks the number of participants, their average length of stay, and also gathers anecdotal information about the program and participants. The CRC coordinator invites participants to sign in so that they can be sent future e-mail newsletters.

 

Examples of Program Success 

In 2009, Sunday Parkland Games attracted an average of 300 individuals per event. In the subsequent years, there has been a steady rate between 200 and 400 people. For most seasons, the games have been held by the Weeks Bridge. This location has provided steady foot-traffic that has enabled not only the return of groups week after week, but also the attraction of new participants who happen upon the games. Hoping to reach a new members of the greater-Boston area, the 2016 season will be split between two unique river communities. The first half of the summer, the games will be held in North Point Park in East Cambridge. For the second half, the games will move upriver to Herter Park in Allston. We believe these two locations will offer two benefits. First, locations will allow members from different neighborhoods to enjoy the games closer to their own homes. Second, visiting these two parks for the games will encourage exploration of these distinctive parklands.


Swim Park Project

Ever since the 1800s, swimming in the Charles River was a popular summer activity. However, in the 1950s, public health awareness and concerns about polluted water grew, and swimming in the Charles was banned. Thanks to the hard work of many government agencies and non-profits, water quality began to improve in the 1990s. In 2007, funding provided by the Boston Foundation allowed the Conservancy to hire a Swimmable Charles Initiative coordinator.

Water quality monitoring completed by the EPA shows that the Charles River now meets water quality standards for swimming the majority of the summer. In 2013, the Conservancy celebrated this accomplishment with the first community swim in the Charles River in over 50 years; this event has taken place successfully in subsequent summers as well. The Conservancy is now planning for the time when a permanent swim park can be built on the river.

Budget  $110,000.00
Category  Recreation & Sports, General/Other Swimming
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 

In 2013, the CRC held the first community swim event in the Charles in over 50 years. This event generated a great deal of publicity from television news and from newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and local papers. The success allowed the CRC to plan another swim event in 2014, two events in 2015, and an event in 2016. Since the first event in 2013, these ‘City Splash’ events have brought over 1,200 people into the Charles.

In July 2016, the CRC released a feasibility study completed pro-bono by the Engineering firm Stantec, which demonstrates that it is possible to have a permanent swimming facility in the Charles River. This study determined that the best location for a Swim Park in the Charles River would be off North Point Park, where the channel is sheltered from boat traffic, and four different T stations are in walking distance. The CRC hired Childs Engineering in late 2016 to perform a bathymetry analysis of the river bottom in this area of the river. The bathymetry results showed that the water is both deep enough to host swimmers (25 feet deep in parts), and free from major obstructions. Early in 2017, the CRC has contracted with Northeastern University to full fund a Masters student to complete daily water quality testing at North Point Park for two years.

Program Long-Term Success 

In the long term, success will be measured by the completion of a beautiful, safe and accessible permanent area for swimming in the Charles River that benefits local users. The nonprofit Community Consulting Teams (CCT) has agreed to conduct an operations analysis for the Swim Park. CCT “amplifies the impact of Boston-area nonprofits through pro bono management consulting projects performed by teams of experienced MBAs from top-tier business schools”. Our team of ten CCT consultants expect to provide us with operating and financial models to ensure the long term sustainability of the Swim Park by early summer 2017. 

Program Success Monitored By 

The Swim Park Project is staffed by the CRC’s full-time project manager who coordinates meetings, supervises project interns, documents the project, research and drafts grants, and performs other oversight tasks. Two members of the CRC board, both experienced in project management and large construction projects, participate in a Swim Park committee. A Project Management expert has also been helping with project support on a pro-bono basis. 

Examples of Program Success 

Years of effort paid off in 2013 when the CRC hosted the first community swim in the Charles River in over 5 decades. Subsequent swims each summer have continued to gain momentum and grow in popularity, propelling the Swim Park Project towards its goal of permanently restoring recreational swimming to the Charles River.

2016 was a landmark year for the Swim Park project, including the completion of a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign ($25,000 raised with 299 backers), the launch of Stantec’s Feasibility Study, another oversubscribed City Splash event, and significant press coverage, including a front page feature in the Boston Globe.


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

When I started the Conservancy in 2000, the owner of the parklands at the time, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), was just completing a New Basin Master Plan. The budget to implement the suggested improvements ranged from $50 to $100 million, but it was clear that significant funding and advocacy would need to come from private sources. The CRC recognized this challenge, and approached it by building constituencies and calling upon many individuals and groups to help by donating and/or volunteering.

Improving the parkland is a big undertaking. But many citizens love to volunteer and by having several thousand landscaper volunteers work with the CRC every year, and though our Conservancy Volunteers program, we have built a corps of parkland stewards. While some individuals who volunteer as landscapers have become donors, corporations who sponsor volunteer events now regularly contribute funds to the CRC. Through this model, the Conservancy contributes to the daily ongoing maintenance and enhancement of the parklands, and helps to develop supporters from our constituency.

But bigger ideas and projects are also required to help the parklands become world-class resources. The Lynch Family Skatepark is the culmination of years of advocacy, fundraising, design, negotiation and construction. To take an unusable brownfield under the ramps of the highway and turn it into a thriving park is at the heart of the Conservancy’s mission.

Coming up with an idea, raising funds, and finding a partner who can carry on the program is an approach that works well for an innovative but small organization such as the CRC. We look forward to pursuing the next goal of re-establishing swimming the Charles.

 

Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Renata von Tscharner
CEO Term Start Jan 2000
CEO Email rvt@thecharles.org
CEO Experience Founder and President Renata von Tscharner, brings over 30 years of experience in non-profit and public sector leadership, project and fiscal management, marketing, and organizational development. Trained as an architect and urban designer in Switzerland, Renata's professional life has focused on planning and improving public spaces. Renata has worked on the Covent Garden Market in London, co-authored several books, and taught at various colleges in the United States. Since the Conservancy was first formed in 2000, von Tscharner has volunteered her time, further demonstrating her dedication to the Charles River Conservancy.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
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Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
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Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Commandant Award Friends of Charlestown Navy Yard 2016
Lifetime Helmsman Award Community Boating 2016
Outstanding Civic Accomplishment The Landscape Design Council of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts 2016
Julius Adams Stratton Prize for Intercultural Achievement Friends of Switzerland, Inc. 2015
Olmsted Award American Society of Landscape Architects 2013
Zone Conservation Award Garden Club of America 2011
Centennial Luminary Esplanade Association 2010
"Upstander" Award Facing History and Oursleves 2008
Organization of the Year Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) 2008
"Out of the Blue" Award Boston Foundation 2007
Medal of Merit Garden Club of America 2005
Boston Authors Award for books about Boston Boston Authors Club 2004
Best of Show Bookbuilders of Boston New England Book Show 2003
Communications Honor Award American Society of Landscape Architects 2003
Distinguished Friend Award Boston by Foot 2003
Excellence Award Boston Society of Landscape Architects 2003
Trade Illustrated category of AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Competition Association of American University Presses 2003

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
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Collaborations

Collaborations and partnerships are key to all our projects and programs. All the land we maintain is under the care of the State's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the bridges are owned by MassDOT, and all landscape projects require a permit from the relevant municipal Conservation Commission. Adjacent municipalities - Boston, Cambridge, Newton and Watertown - are also important partners.

While the Conservancy works on 10 miles of the river, there are several other organizations that are active in specific areas. They are:

The Esplanade Association

Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (re: Magazine beach)

Friends of Riverbend Park

Friends of Herter Park

Watertown Friends of the Riverfront

Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Downtown North Association

Allston Brighton Civic Association

New Basin Citizens Advisory Committee

Allston Task Force 


Organization with related missions that we often partner with include:

The Charles River Watershed Association (CWRA)

Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM)

State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)

Sierra Club

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

River Alliance 

 

As part of our advocacy work on the bridge underpasses we also work closely with:

Livable Streets

MassBike

Institute for Human Centered Design

Cycle Kids

WalkBoston 

Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC)

And 30 other thoughtful leaders who have signed on.

 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Like many other non-profits, the CRC was started by a passionate advocate who assembled a group of like-minded volunteers. In order to accomplish what it needed to do in the beginning, interns and recent college graduates were recruited, and gradually more experienced professionals joined the staff. Today, the Conservancy has six full-time professionals (including our full-time volunteer president). Our organization benefitted enormously from the managerial training sessions provided by the Boston Foundation and other groups that support non-profits. The Boston Foundation also organized meetings for non-profit groups with similar missions or of similar size to facilitate an exchange and learning process. Board members and advisors experienced in human resources have played an important role by helping the President with recruitment and personnel issues. The board of directors (12) play a very active role and either chair or serve on two committees. The advisory board (36) includes many former board members (17), and many advisors also are active on committees.

Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 5
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 2,000
Number of Contract Staff 5
Staff Retention Rate % 60%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 0
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 5
Other (if specified): 5
Gender Female: 0
Male: 0
Not Specified 5

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
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 No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Debra Iles
Board Chair Company Affiliation Harvard Kennedy School
Board Chair Term Mar 2013 - Mar 2017
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Virginia Foote Conservation Law Foundation Voting
Ms. Jennifer Gilbert VIVA Consulting and Kuehn Foundation Voting
Ms. Debra Iles Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government Voting
Ms. Pam Kocher Public Policy & Government Relations Voting
Mr. Steve Kropper Parallel Wireless Voting
Mr. Edward LeFlore CSL Consulting, LLC Voting
Mrs. Nicole Manseau Raytheon Corp. Voting
Mr. Harry Mattison Boost Your BIM LLC Voting
Ms. Joan Pickett Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Voting
Ms. Robyn Reed Klopfer Martin Design Group Voting
Ms. Renata von Tscharner Charles River Conservancy Exofficio
Mr. William Ward P.E. Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Ronald Axelrod Retired Architect and Construction Manager NonVoting
Mr. Jay Baldwin Wind River Capital Partners NonVoting
Mr. Jarrett Barrios American Red Cross NonVoting
Mr. Jeffrey Bilezikian Mill Lane Management NonVoting
Mr. Dan Calano Architect/Real Estate NonVoting
Mr. Dennis Carlone Carlone & Associates/Cambridge City Council NonVoting
Mr. Philip W. Crutchfield Harvard Business School NonVoting
Mr. John DeVillars BlueWave Capital LLC NonVoting
Ms. Catherine Donaher Catherine Donaher & Associates NonVoting
Hon. Michael Dukakis Northeastern University NonVoting
Mr. Michael Epstein Retired Doctor and Hospital Administrator NonVoting
Mr. Paul Fremont-Smith Retired Businessman and Philanthropist NonVoting
Mr. Mitch Glass landscape architect NonVoting
Mr. John Issacson Issacson & Miller NonVoting
Mr. Mark Kraczkiewicz Retired USAID officer NonVoting
Ms. Frans Lawaetz IT start-up NonVoting
Mr. Henry Lee Retired President of Friends of the Public Garden NonVoting
Ms. Linda Lerner Executive Consultant NonVoting
Mr. Paul Moyer Gill Engineering NonVoting
Mr. Robert O'Brien Former Executive Director, Downtown North Association NonVoting
Ms. Geri Pangaro Retired Insurance Executive with Hancock NonVoting
Randy Peeler Berkshire Partners NonVoting
Mr. Matt Petrie Chan Krieger NBBJ NonVoting
Ms. Patricia Pratt Landscape Designer NonVoting
Ms. Candace Roosevelt Red Cross MA NonVoting
Mr. Richard Saltzberg former print executive NonVoting
Ms. Nancy Schön Sculptor NonVoting
Mr. Bruce Schwoegler MySky Communications NonVoting
Ms. Amy Segal lawyer with WilmerHale NonVoting
Mr. John R. Shields Shields Design NonVoting
Ms. Lisa Stone Winsor School rowing coach and artist NonVoting
Mr. Paul Walker Global Green USA NonVoting
Ms. Judy Warren Retired COO and HR specialist NonVoting
Ms. Ania Wieckowski Harvard Business Review Press NonVoting
Mr. John T. Williams Stern Shapiro Weissberg & Garin LLP NonVoting
Ms. Michelle Wu Boston City Council NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 0
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 12
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 0
Male: 0
Not Specified 12

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
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

  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Nominating

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The Charles River Conservancy has a 12-member Board of Directors and a 36-member Board of Advisors. The Board of Directors has three standing committees (Finance, Development, and Nominating), as well as two project committees (Advocacy and Swimming). While the Board always had members who brought with them a wide set of skills, and who came from various geographic areas along the urban Charles, recent recruitment efforts have resulted in several younger members with more diverse backgrounds and work experience profiles. Members of the Board of Advisors also play a key role in offering guidance across areas of interest for the organization. The CRC continues to seek board members and advisors with expertise in finance, event planning, fundraising, and public relations.

Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Revenue $825,840 $2,576,963 $898,492
Total Expenses $591,677 $653,524 $563,671

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $392,023 $355,191 $431,334
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $73,278 $111,169 $17,930
Investment Income, Net of Losses $6,122 $9,565 $5,189
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind $138,913 $347,987 $208,469
Other $215,504 $1,753,051 $235,570

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Program Expense $423,315 $477,571 $373,311
Administration Expense $115,231 $102,586 $102,872
Fundraising Expense $53,131 $73,367 $87,488
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.40 3.94 1.59
Program Expense/Total Expenses 72% 73% 66%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 14% 21% 20%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Assets $5,694,469 $4,901,810 $2,930,485
Current Assets $1,858,798 $1,560,615 $1,511,215
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $635,326 $76,830 $28,944
Total Net Assets $5,059,143 $4,824,980 $2,901,541

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 6.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
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 2015 2014 2013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 2.93 20.31 52.21

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

 

The CRC was engaged in a capital campaign and construction project for the Lynch Family Skatepark during the previous 11 fiscal years (2004-2015). The skatepark was completed and gifted to the state at the beginning of our 2016 fiscal year. Our 2016 fiscal year projections for income and revenue do not include the completion and gift of this project.

The CRC started in 2000 with a big vision and no money. The founder was able to donate her time, to provide space in her house, recruit volunteers and gain early support from foundations. By carefully managing its expenditures, the CRC has always operated in the black and has grown gradually. Single-year grants, however, have made it difficult to budget and plan for future years but we’ve done our best to grow year to year. With the help of the Boston Foundation, the Conservancy was able to set up a Parklands Stewardship Fund that allows donors to contribute to a fund that functions like a very small endowment. In 2007, the CRC was the grateful recipient of a $75,000 “out of the blue” grant from the Boston Foundation. The CRC also receives extensive pro-bono services for legal advice; for example, Wilmer Hale donated over $1 million in legal help for the skatepark.

With an exciting vision, a talented team, loyal donors, well established stakeholder relationships and a good track record, the Conservancy is ready for growth.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the nonprofit's audited financials.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available. Please note, the amount in Other for fiscal year 2013 & 2014 includes capital grants.

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

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?

The Charles River Conservancy (CRC) is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, working to make this extraordinary public resource more active, attractive and accessible for all.

Used by more than one million visitors annually, the Charles River is a prized public amenity. Yet in tough economic times funding for this and other state parks is often cut at the same time that usage dramatically increases as people search for low-cost activities.

The “ribbon of green and blue” of the urban river and its parklands give residents and visitors alike an enduring sense of place and a refuge for recreation, contemplation, and renewal. The Charles River Reservation’s Lower Basin includes 20 miles of shoreline, from the new harbor locks in Boston to the Watertown Dam, and more than 30 parks and green spaces along the way.

The staff and volunteers of this small but effective public-interest organization work together towards this shared vision of renewing our urban river parklands, which we believe have the potential to be world-class parks. Building on the legacy of landscape architect and visionary Charles Eliot, the CRC focuses on providing what Eliot called a, “democratic common ground for the enjoyment of all.” 

Ultimately, the Charles River Conservancy wants to see the 20 miles of urban river parklands improved ecologically as well as for public access and year-round recreation. This linear park from downtown Boston to the Watertown Dam includes historic and cultural landmarks, yet faces modern challenges from the urban communities and campuses abutting it. Heavy use by residents and visitors and a lack of overarching vision (piecemeal projects abound, but there are few comprehensive plans) have left many parts of the Basin resembling the much loved and well-worn Velveteen Rabbit. The Conservancy hopes to work with agencies and disparate user groups to provide improvements and to foster a shared vision for the Charles River parklands. 

We want access along and across the river. 

We want recreational amenities up and down the river's parks - both passive and structured.  

We want the public to be attracted to these "common democratic grounds" that belong to them and for which they should feel a sense of ownership.

We want the public to find great community building events - whether artistic, cultural, recreational or all of the above - in the riverside parklands.

We define our success by the number of volunteer events held, advocates created (counted through engagement with our programs and projects), and positive public response to our work (whether in the media or through letters of support). As avid users of the parks, we also routinely check-in on our success as we use, enjoy, and commute through the parks. 

We hope you'll join us and support our work for more active, attractive and accessible Charles River Parklands!


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

At a milestone event for the Charles River Conservancy at the groundbreaking of the Lynch Family Skatepark, Congressman Michael Capuano told the crowd gathered, "I'm about to lay on you my highest accolade for a person who's an advocate of any kind. [Conservancy Founder and President] Renata is a huge pain in the ...."
 
The Congressman went on to say, "And I say that with incredible respect because that's what it takes." While tenacity is not the Conservancy's only strategy, it reflects our diligence and commitment to the work we do for the Charles River parklands every day.
 
The Conservancy's steadfast advocacy is backed by strategic and thoughtful communications and relationships.  Our communications strategy uses both digital and traditional media platforms. The Conservancy engages supporters and constituents monthly through our e-newsletter, as well as specific interest groups with digital update e-blasts, social media, public meetings, events and press releases.
 
We maintain relationships with our local and state elected officials, executive administrations, and the agencies charged with stewarding these properties.  Through our partnerships with like-minded organizations, we coordinate briefings and lead sign-on letters to advance these priorities.
 
Some examples of this are:
 
The Lynch Family Skatepark remediated a state-owned brownfield and provides new recreational opportunities along the river. Completion of this capital project in 2015 has provided a healthy, urban recreational home for thousands of wheeled athletes.
 
The Swim Park Project is the Conservancy's next area of focus for expanding opportunity along the river. The Conservancy has brought back community swimming the past 4 years by holding one-day events and now is pursuing a permanent swimming facility at North Point Park in East Cambridge. 
 
Underpasses and Pathway Advocacy continues our work to provide un-interrupted passage along the river's edge. The success of the underpass approved by MassDOT for the Anderson Memorial Bridge serves as a building block in our long-term work to make the parklands safer and more accessible for recreation and green commuting.
 
The Conservancy Volunteers program works in the parklands with some 2,000 landscape volunteers each year.  These volunteers ensure the ecological health of the river, as well as the accessibility and beauty of the parklands for residents and visitors alike.
 
Each project helps to provide a rich array of amenities and opportunities to all visitors.

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

The Charles River Conservancy is uniquely positioned as the only non-profit that seeks to improve the urban Charles River parklands as a whole. While other organizations work to improve one area of the Basin or focus on the health of the water itself, the Conservancy's vision is broader. Our founder's vision and experience positioned the Conservancy to look at the complete picture -- just as Charles Eliot did in the nineteenth century when he designed what would become the central space of the Metropolitan Parks System. 
 
As an organization we are lean and limber, able to move swiftly if an area of advocacy needs unexpected attention due to a shifting political or community issues. Through 17 years of successful work, we have earned the trust of civic-minded donors seeking an organization to invest in.
 
Our talented staff hold a variety of degrees and experiences from environmentally focused studies to architect to years spent in Massachusetts political circles. Add to this internal asset, the well-cultivated resource of the Conservancy's Board members and Advisory Board members and you'll find a well-rounded network strengthening the Conservancy's capabilities.  

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

Each year, we measure success by the amount of debris collected from the parklands, the progress of our advocacy targets, and the growth of our volunteering and swimming programs.  Each of our initiatives and programs has a staff member to manage and track progress, as well as thorough oversight from the Conservancy's Board and Advisory Board committed to excellence in Conservancy programs.

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

The Charles River Conservancy strives to make the Charles River parklands more active, attractive and accessible. The Conservancy takes on challenges it believes will improve the river and its parklands for all of us. These recent years have been no exception: 
 
Advocacy: In 2014, the campaign for MassDOT to build underpasses into its bridge rehabilitation plans took a major leap forward. In early fall, we received word that MassDOT had given the go-ahead for an underpass for the Anderson Bridge to be designed—and expressed additional support for underpasses at the River St. and Western Ave. bridges. This progress was a monumental step forward after 5+ years of advocacy work. At the end of 2016, the Mass Historical Commission gave the green light to proceed with the design. The Conservancy will continue to call upon a strong coalition to ensure construction of all three underpasses.
 
The Lynch Family Skatepark: On November 14, 2015, under the ramps of I-93 and the Zakim Bridge, the Conservancy, along with 2000 guests, celebrated the opening of the skatepark, representing the culmination of over a decade of environmental challenges, complicated multi-agency negotiations, designing, fundraising, and permitting towards a world-class skatepark on the river. The skatepark provides skaters and skateboarders the first public professionally designed, accessible space in which to safely and legally hone their skills. In addition to a $1.5M gift for construction, the Conservancy also secured a 7-year commitment from Vans® to provide financial support to MassDCR for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the skatepark. The Conservancy also secured the help of the City of Cambridge to donate lights, which DCR will install.
 
Swim Park Project: After 3 years of holding successful community swims in the Charles River, the Conservancy commissioned a feasibility study from professionals at Stantec and a bathymetric survey (sonar scan) from Childs Engineering. Both demonstrate the potential at North Point Park as a location for a permanent swim park. After the 4th annual Community Swim in 2016, where nearly 300 people jumped in, and a successful crowdfunding campaign, next steps include public design charrettes and water quality testing and analysis, which the Conservancy has secured funding for a graduate student to perform.
 
Conservancy Volunteers: We have maintained our strong volunteer presence on the banks of the Charles, with some 2,000 volunteers cleaning, painting, and pruning throughout the year. Through these events we have engaged students from elementary age through college, community members, and employees of corporate supporters in the health and vitality of the Charles River parklands. 
 
Sunday Parkland Games: The Conservancy continued its summer tradition of holding games on Sunday afternoons along the river. In 2016, its eighth season, the Games were held in two parks -- North Point Park in East Cambridge and Herter Park in Allston -- allowing the Conservancy to welcome hundreds of families to the parklands where they enjoyed recreational activities and yoga.