A look back at 2020 - And what will 2021 look like?
Picture credit to long time PRC Member Peter Mark
George Pocock long advocated for high school rowing programs, and believed rowing could change lives. His vision guides the work of the George Pocock Rowing Foundation (GPRF), where we hold the bold vision that everyone has the opportunity to row and strive for excellence on the water. We maintain a youth-centered approach to rowing-development throughout the Pacific Northwest, and across the country. The GPRF’s programs are designed to help youth find, start, and stay rowing.
In partnership with public school districts, parks and recreation departments, city councils, and USRowing, we operate the largest youth rowing outreach effort in the country. We are
in the classroom; through Erg Ed
in the boathouse; partnering with a dozen programs in the region
with the family; supporting athletes through scholarships, transportation, and uniforms.
If it helps get more kids into rowing, we're all about it.
Coming into 2020, the George Pocock Rowing Foundation was prepared to provide more students than ever with the support they needed to get involved in rowing. Unfortunately, with the pandemic came the closure of all boathouses. While some programs were able to pivot to working with their athletes remotely, many programs could not.
The face of rowing will look different for a while, but the GPRF remains committed to supporting youth athletes and their families, as well as boathouses and their coaches. With a continued focus on increasing youth participation in rowing, the GPRF expanded opportunities to youth athletes in 2019/2020, and we plan to continue this important work in 2021 as well.
While the pandemic disrupted programming, we remain dedicated to creating access to rowing, and helping kids get on the water safely.
Erg Ed allows students to try rowing without leaving the classroom – receiving in-person instruction through their P.E. class, on indoor rowing machines (ergs). Prior to programming shutting down last March, Erg Ed had already connected with more than 25,000 students nationwide, 4,000 more than the 2018-2019 school year. This includes starting Erg Ed programs in new cities – Kenmore & Bothell, WA, and Los Angeles, CA. With your help, Erg Ed is also getting ready to start up in Edmonds, WA, and Tulsa, OK.
We fund need-based scholarships to youth athletes, closing the gap between them and their local boathouse. In 2018-2019, we funded 118 athletes through scholarships. In 2019-2020, before programming shut down, we were on-track to help more than 125 athletes.
The current dangers and shutdowns felt around the world related to the spread of COVID-19 heavily disrupted rowing and its programming. Through the summer and fall of 2020, rowing programs worked on protocols to return to the boathouse and the water, while keeping athletes and coaches safe. Programs started returning to the water in June, at a reduced capacity, and continued to expand operations as local and national restrictions allowed.
Since the shutdown last March, the GPRF lost significant funding from boathouse revenue, as well as cancelled fundraising events. However, with our wonderful community supporters, and with the generosity of grantors, we were able to continue our work with the rowing community even in this time of crisis. We have been able to keep coaches employed, and athletes engaged – lending out more than 100 ergometers to our athletes, and coaches creating innovative solutions to work with athletes through the season.
The George Pocock Rowing Foundation will continue to support youth athletes, programs, and communities in 2021 – because we believe rowing changes lives.
If you would like to support our efforts, you can contribute here.