Providing Equal Access to Competitive Waterways
This grant will allow RowLA to officially establish a Regatta Travel Fund, supporting our mission to give everyone on our team equitable access to participation in regional and national competitions, as well as opportunities for college recruitment. RowLA funds regatta participation for every athlete on our team so that regardless of economic circumstances, they have equal access to necessary competitions, travel, and accommodations. Other rowing clubs charge participants upwards of $2,800 per rower to travel to competitions.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Play Equity to Advance Mental Health (sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation)
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Rowing is highly disciplined, both physically and mentally. The benefits are life-changing: confidence, tenacity, camaraderie, exposure to nature, and physical fitness. Rowers speak about the feeling of serenity, awareness, and accomplishment from being on the water working in synchronicity with the members of your boat. However, there is a glaring equity gap in the sport, and RowLA is seeking to address it with equal access to regatta competition, which is critical to advancement. Regatta participation is cost prohibitive but critical to rowers' progress. In addition to the competition, regattas provide opportunities for high school rowers to be seen by college coaches, compete against the best peer rowers, and visit area colleges they might be considering. Regattas are where rowers get better, get seen, and get recruited. Rowers who cannot afford to attend regattas are severely disadvantaged.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
RowLA's goal is to broaden the scope of our rowers' experience by providing equal access to competitive waterways, wherever they are. We do that by making regatta participation free for our team. As scholarship athletes, about half of them would not be able to attend regattas if they were required to pay. Regatta participation is critical. The more experience a racer has, the more capable they are in competition environments, and the greater chance they have of succeeding. Each year we make strategic choices around what races our girls can attend. Too often, our decision-making is influenced by our lack of funding for travel. It's important for us to compete at Boston's Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), which is the largest 3-day regatta in the world and the oldest in the United States. In addition to the competition experience, rowers there can be seen by college coaches from almost all 50 states and be inspired by racers from around the world. We would like to provide our team with an opportunity to attend regattas like HOCR, as well as several regional and national competitions. Last year, it cost our club more than $100,000 to participate in regattas. Moreover, our regatta schedule is constantly put in jeopardy because of important, pressing needs like repairing equipment, and increasing scholarship funding. A dedicated regatta fund would allow our athletes to have a robust 2023-2024 competition season; and could be used to elicit additional fundraising.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
RowLA was established in 2009, when founder Liz Greenberger noticed that entire swaths of Los Angeles' population were not represented at the rowing clubs of Marina del Rey, the only body of water available to rowers in the city. The diversity RowLA brings to this important waterway is evident, and is impacting the marina. Girls who may not have previously thought of themselves as rowers are inspired by our student-athletes. Our long waiting list is evidence of that, and we are working hard to raise additional funds that will allow us to enroll all the girls our student-athletes inspire. This is transformative for Los Angeles. The long-term impact is also incredibly important. Many colleges offer rowing scholarships. The traditional high school rower is wealthy, white, and not likely to need a scholarship. We give girls from under-represented communities the training they need to compete for those scholarships. Participation in competitive regattas is critical to their preparation.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
A salient measure of success is that 99% of RowLA graduates have gone to college. They were empowered by a rowing experience that transferred to their academic and civic life. RowLA ensures our athletes' transition with one-on-one college counseling focused on helping them get into college with the necessary funding, regardless of their desire to continue rowing. Consistently, about half of our rowers (currently 46%) come from low-wage or single-parent households, and face economic challenges, including food and housing insecurity. Many alumni who faced these obstacles would not have gone to college without the focus, encouragement, and tangible help RowLA provided. Additionally, RowLA gives girls with vastly different lived experiences, who may otherwise have never met, much less formed deep friendships, a chance to work together toward a shared goal. Talented, educated students from across the city are forming alliances that will greatly benefit Los Angeles' future.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 50
Indirect Impact: 4,000