Row New York

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Row New York logo.

Row New York is a non-profit organization based in New York City focused on empowering youth through the sport of rowing.

Youth from under-resourced backgrounds row for free. The organization offers a variety of rowing programs for youth, adults, and people with disabilities. The founding focus of Row New York is its rowing program for New York City girls from under-resourced neighborhoods. The organization and its staff have won several awards and recognition for positive impact on local youth and the sport of rowing.[1]

Row New York was founded in 2002. Its first program had only eight participants. The organization has grown to serve over 2,000 participants a year. Programming has expanded from under-resourced high school girls to include boys, middle school students, athletes with disabilities, adult masters rowers, corporate team-building, and summer camps. Row New York’s main office is located in Long Island City, Queens and on-water activities are conducted on Meadow Lake at Queens’ Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and on the Harlem River at Manhattan’s Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse.[2][3]


Row New York’s stated mission is to “empower young people from New York City’s under-resourced communities to build strength, gain confidence, and pursue excellence through the unique sport of rowing.” [4] The organization’s mission is predicated on observation and research demonstrating the mental health, physical health, and social benefits of youth athletic participation.[5][6] Programming aims to capture these positive effects on youth, namely, improvements in academic performance, reductions in obesity, and increased self-esteem. The organization also views rowing as a way to demonstrate the relationship between hard work and reward, the importance of teamwork to success, and the possibilities of individual achievement for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.[7]

The history of female athletic participation in the U.S. influenced Row New York’s founding emphasis on empowering girls. Until the 1970s, female athletic competition was widely viewed as unnecessary and unladylike, even unhealthy. Subsequent societal changes, including the 1972 passage of Title IX legislation, tempered these views and increased female athletic participation.[8] The 1976 Olympics were the first to feature women’s rowing.[9] The organization's founder was motivated by continuing inequities, including a 3:4.5 ratio of girls to boys in high school sports participation.

Row New York’s programming features academics as well. Many of the school-age participants attend weekly academic tutoring sessions at the organization’s Long Island City office. A college counselor guides high school participants through the college admissions process. The organization’s academic goal is for all participants to graduate high school and continue on to college. Many participants see test scores and grades improve after joining the program. To date, 99% of graduates have gone on to college.[10]


The organization’s current Executive Director, Amanda Kraus, founded Row New York in 2002. Kraus’ inspiration and organizational model was the Massachusetts nonprofit G-Row Boston, where she worked while earning a graduate degree at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.[11] U.S. Olympic rower and gold medalist Chris Ahrens served as a founding member of the organization’s Board of Directors. The organization’s original team rowed with a used boat borrowed from University of Massachusetts rowing coach and U.S. Olympic rower Jim Dietz.


Row New York’s first and main program serves youth from under-resourced neighborhoods and schools. This Empowerment through Rowing and Academics program, or ERA, features two teams that row competitively: a novice squad for beginners and varsity squad to which beginners graduate. These rowers, grades 9-12, practice most days of the week after school and some are required to devote weekly time to academic tutoring.[12] All ERA teammates receive college guidance, career counseling, and college transition advice. The ERA program currently serves about 145 youth and runs year-round.

The PREP, or Pre-competitive Rowing Exposure Program, is designed to introduce middle school-age students to the sport of rowing, with the goal of transitioning them to the ERA program. This program was started in 2010. It targets the same high-needs population of young people as ERA, and includes participants from dozens of schools.[13] Practice takes place between two and four times a week, with one day a week of academics. Eighty girls and boys are currently served by PREP, and like ERA, it runs year-round.

Adaptive rowing, for people with disabilities, was added to Row New York’s program suite in 2010. Various programs run for different lengths year-round, including indoor rowing programs during the winter. Row New York is a Paralympic Sports Club and partners with a number of institutions and organizations around New York to offer adaptive rowing, from the New York City Department of Education [14] to NYU’s Initiative for Women with Disabilities.[15]

Masters and community rowing round out the organization’s programming slate. Row New York’s masters rowing program is composed of New York-area adults, some of whom have won medals in regattas around the region. The community rowing programs feature day camps in the summer [16] that bring children from all over the city to the Queens boathouse. The corporate team-building program caters to businesses looking to increase cooperation among employees.[17]

Recognition and Success[edit]

Row New York has received recognition from around the rowing world and the Northeast region. It received the U.S. Rowing Association’s first ever Anita DeFrantz Award, recognizing excellence and achievement by an organization in diversity and inclusion in rowing.[18] In 2008, the Association awarded Executive Director Amanda Kraus the John J. Carlin Award, given annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to and outstanding commitments within the sport.[19] Kraus was honored in 2011 with a namesake eight-oar shell belonging to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst rowing team.[20] Kraus, a UMass alumna, was captain of the team her senior year. The boat name distinction is given to alumni who embody the team’s dedication and spirit.

Row New York’s teams have seen success on the water. At the New York State Championships, the organization’s varsity 4+ boat won silver in 2008 and 2009, the novice 4+ took gold in 2010, the novice 8+ won gold in 2011,[21] and the varsity 4+ took bronze in 2012 in the senior event. The Row New York team competed in about 20 regattas around the region during the same period.

The organization’s participants have met with academic success as well. Ninety-nine percent of Row New York's graduates have continued on to college.[22] Row New York has sent alumnae to a diverse range of institutions, from New York-area schools including Rutgers, Fordham, and NYU, to schools around the country including Michigan State University, Smith College, and Harvard.[23][24] From 2008-2011, 22 of 34 graduates received full or partial college scholarships, many for rowing. Row New York’s tutoring and SAT guidance prepared many of these girls to get the grades and test scores needed for college admission and/or NCAA eligibility. Monique Carter, a 2007 program graduate, won the 2008 Big Ten championship rowing for Michigan State.[25]

Row New York’s programming has received attention and coverage in a variety of local, national, and international media outlets.[26][27][28]

Boathouse Renovation and Manhattan Expansion[edit]

Row New York’s on-water home in Queens is the World’s Fair Boathouse on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the boathouse underwent $7.2 million renovation from 2009 to 2011, financed primarily by the office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.[29] The boathouse was reopened at an October 2011 ceremony.[30]

In spring 2012, Row New York acquired the right to run programming out of a second venue, the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, on the Harlem River.[31] The boathouse is owned by the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit founded by entertainer Bette Midler to revitalize neglected neighborhood parks in economically disadvantaged areas of New York City.[32] Row New York’s youth programming began at this location in fall 2012.

Funders and Partners[edit]

Row New York receives funding from a variety of sources. Foundation grants, individual gifts, government grants, and earned income sustain the organization’s programming. Early and longstanding funders include the Patrina Foundation,[33] the Foundation for Global Sports Development,[34] and the New York Community Trust.[35] Funders in recent years include the New York Women’s Foundation,[36] the Arbor Brothers Foundation,[37] and the Catalog for Giving of New York.[38]

Row New York partners with a range of New York City organizations and agencies. The YMCA of Greater New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Office of the Queens Borough President are among them.[39] The organization also works with numerous New York City public schools to bring rowing to their students both on the water and in school on indoor rowing machines.[40]


  1. ^ "Row New York Is First Anita DeFrantz Award Recipient". Row 2K. 
  2. ^ Vora, Shivani (22 March 2012). "Workouts on Virtual Water". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Finn, Robin (22 June 2012). "Oars Fly in Rumble on the River". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Partners". Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. 
  5. ^ Parker-Pope, Tara (16 February 2010). "From Title IX, Dividends Paid". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Sports-Playing Teens Happier and Healthier". Science Daily. 
  7. ^ "Diversity at the Dock". Rowing News. 
  8. ^ Parker-Pope, Tara (16 February 2010). "From Title IX, Dividends Paid". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Kitson, Robert (31 July 2012). "Going for Rowing Gold". The Guardian. London. 
  10. ^ "A New Direction at the Sharp Boathouse". Manhattan Times. 
  11. ^ "Youth Program Spotlight". Foundation for Global Sports Development. 
  12. ^ "Rowing and Growing" (PDF). National Institute on Out-of-School Time. 
  13. ^ "Strokes of Genius". United Federation of Teachers. 
  14. ^ "Growing Through Rowing in Queens". New York Community Trust. 
  15. ^ "Group Takes Water Therapy to New Level". NY1. 
  16. ^ "Rowing Camps". Wheelchair Sports Federation. 
  17. ^ "A New Direction at the Sharp Boathouse". Manhattan Times. 
  18. ^ "Row New York Receives First Anita DeFrantz Award". USRowing. 
  19. ^ "USRowing Names 2008 Award Winners". Row2K. 
  20. ^ "Former Rower Honored at Football Opener". UMass Athletics. 
  21. ^ "Program Highlights". Altman Foundation. 
  22. ^ "A New Direction". Manhattan Times. 
  23. ^ "Interview: Michigan State's Monique Carter". Row 2K. 
  24. ^ "Program Highlights". Altman Foundation. 
  25. ^ "Interview: Michigan State's Monique Carter". Row 2K. 
  26. ^ "Program Provides Fulfillment". WABC. 
  27. ^ "Row New York". NBC News. 
  28. ^ "Row New York". Fox News. 
  29. ^ "Historic Flushing Meadows Boathouse Renovated". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. 
  30. ^ "Flushing Meadows-Corona Park". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. 
  31. ^ Finn, Robin (22 June 2012). "Oars Fly in Rumble on the River". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ Finn, Robin (22 June 2012). "Oars Fly in Rumble on the River". The New York Times. 
  33. ^ "Funding". Patrina Foundation. 
  34. ^ "Program Spotlight". Foundation for Global Sports Development. 
  35. ^ "Growing Through Rowing in Queens". New York Community Trust. 
  36. ^ "Grantee". New York Women's Foundation. 
  37. ^ "Row New York". The Arbor Brothers Foundation. 
  38. ^ "Finding Themselves a River of Opportunity". Catalog for Giving of New York City. 
  39. ^ "Rowing and Growing" (PDF). National Institute on Out-of-School Time. 
  40. ^ "Rowing Program Helps Girls Grow". Queens Courier.