FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
George Pocock Rowing Foundation launches a A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion
Fund to Accelerate Expansion of the Sport of Rowing to Youth in Underserved
Along with the launch of the documentary film, A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING (narrated
by Common, written and directed by Olympian Mary Mazzio), based on the memoir by
Arshay Cooper, this new fund aims to support the work of Arshay Cooper, making the
sport more accessible and inclusive across America, extending opportunities to
underserved athletes and communities.
Fund seeking financial and community partners as well as corporate sponsors to bring
meaningful and lasting change.
SEATTLE – August 4, 2020 – The George Pocock Rowing Foundation (GPRF) today announced a new fund to promote accessibility and inclusion at rowing programs across the United States. The foundation aims to raise at least $1 million this year (and at least $3 million over three years) to get more kids on the water, fund education, scholarship, and mentorship programs, focused on non-traditional rowing communities and communities of color where youth face barriers to participation in the sport. Initial contributions, financial commitments and in kind offerings from prominent companies in the rowing community already have the Fund well on its way to its first $1,000,000 raised in this important effort.
Partnership with Arshay Cooper and A Most Beautiful Thing
The launch of the fund coincides with the premier of A Most Beautiful Thing, a
documentary that chronicles the first all-Black high school rowing team in the country,
available on xfinity on demand starting July 31. The film is based on the true story and
memoir of Arshay Cooper, recounting how a group of young men growing up on the
West Side of Chicago, while living through the daily battles of trauma, violence and
poverty, were able to come together through an unexpected, yet powerful opportunity.
The film is narrated by Grammy and Oscar-winning artist Common, executive produced
by NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, and Grammy-winning
producer 9th Wonder, and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Olympic rower,
“Rowing has the power to bring people together and create opportunities in a unique
way, as my teammates and I learned first-hand,” said Arshay Cooper. “My hope is for
the creation of this new fund to raise awareness, bring new communities into the sport,
and create opportunities to shape what the future of rowing can look like in America.
The George Pocock Rowing Foundation serves as the best platform to implement real
change, and I look forward to working with them on this important work.”
[The fund will be officially named A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, its namesake
after the documentary, which will also contribute up to 50% of its profits to the fund.]
Inclusion Fund Overview
Through the new fund, the GPRF and Cooper will pursue their shared passion to spread
rowing to underserved communities on a national level, including programs that not only
aim to get more kids on the water, but also:
● Educate athletes, coaches and boathouse leaders across the country on the
importance of accessibility and inclusion within the sport.
● Raise awareness around rowing and the opportunities it affords student
athletes, particularly traditionally underserved and minority communities.
● Fund need-based scholarships and other services to remove barriers such as
team fees, equipment, transportation, language barriers and after-school support.
● Report demographic data on the fund’s programs and participating boathouses
to benchmark, track progress, and ensure effectiveness over time.
By working with school districts across the country through programs such as ErgEd,
the GPRF introduced over 25,000 new youth to rowing in 2019. Despite much success,
the GPRF also acknowledges that it has not done nearly enough to encourage
participation from more diverse and underserved communities.
“For generations, rowing has provided athletes with the opportunity to experience a
level of teamwork, achievement, belonging and opportunity that is unique across all
team sports,” said Jenn Gibbons, Executive Director of the George Pocock Rowing
Foundation. “Arshay’s enlightening and inspiring work has shown us that we can and
need to be doing more to extend that opportunity to a more diverse set of communities.
Our hope is that this fund will be the first of many steps to bring Arshay’s vision for the
future of our sport to life. Building on our success with Erg Ed, we will work with existing
clubs, emerging clubs and school districts, community organizations, and municipalities
across the country to get kids from underserved communities on the water. We are not
working for incremental change, but a revolution that will change how kids find, start and
Fund Leadership and Partners
The GPRF has established a new Inclusion Committee to lead the fundraising,
development and implementation of the new fund. The committee includes a diverse
group of leaders and corporate sponsors across the rowing and philanthropic
● Aquil Abdullah, Olympic rower
● David Banks, Olympic rower and former US Rowing board member
● John Bottum, President, George Pocock Rowing Foundation
● David Covin, COO, Fremont Group and President of the Board for Princeton
University Rowing Association and Oakland Strokes
● Anita DeFrantz, Olympic rower, member of the International Olympic Committee,
and twice Vice President of International Rowing Federation
● Jenn Gibbons, Executive Director, George Pocock Rowing Foundation
● William Hudson, Retired attorney, venture investor, lifelong rower and passionate
supporter of the sport as a change agent for youth
● Mary Mazzio, Olympic rower, director of A Most Beautiful Thing and principal of
50 EGGS Films
● Dan Walsh, Olympic rower and Partnership Liaison for HUDSON Boat Works
These leaders will support the GPRF’s efforts to raise the initial $1 million fund target,
the development and implementation of education and inclusion programs across the
country, as well as the search for other community, corporate, financial and
philanthropic partners to further the GPRF’s vision to allow youth of all ages and
backgrounds to experience the values of rowing in meaningful ways.
The Fund is coordinating its activities with the National Rowing Foundation and
USRowing to ensure that the entire rowing community is coming together, inspired by
Arshay’s story, to expand access to the sport. The GPRF has also partnered with US
National Team and current Olympic coach, Mike Teti, to help develop programs that not
only make the sport more accessible, but help youth realize the opportunities rowing
can create later in life. Teti will work with a team of rowing ambassadors, including
collegiate and Olympic athletes, through volunteering, coaching and leadership at
rowing programs across the country.
Teti shared, “I was first introduced to rowing in high school through my best friend,
whose dad was an Olympic rower. While my rowing career has taken me to the
pinnacle of the sport and around the world, it was the people and lessons learned along
that way that have made the journey most worthwhile. Rowing changed my life, and I
hope every kid across America has the opportunity to experience that. I volunteered to
help Arshay because I believe that if rowing becomes more diverse, everyone benefits,
and I want to be a part of making that happen.”
To learn more about the GPRF, A Most Beautiful Thing and how to support the new
fund, please visit: https://www.pocockfoundation.org/copy-of-a-most-beautiful-thing.
A Most Beautiful Thing trailer: https://vimeo.com/384763863
About Arshay Cooper: Arshay Cooper is a Benjamin Franklin award-winning author,
Golden Oar recipient for his contributions to the sport of rowing, motivational speaker,
and activist, particularly around issues of accessibility for low-income families. He has
dedicated his life to getting as many youth as possible to positively benefit from rowing.
About the George Pocock Rowing Foundation: The George Pocock Foundation
(GPRF) has been working since 1984 to get more kids on the water —kids who reflect
the full racial and economic diversity of the communities their boathouses serve.
George Pocock, master craftsman and boatbuilder, believed anyone who had the desire
to row should have the opportunity to participate in the sport and pursue excellence on
and off the water. Today, the George Pocock Rowing Foundation continues the work
George began, bringing Erg Ed to schools across the country, and scholarships to
boathouses across the pacific northwest.
For More Information:
George Pocock Rowing Foundation