The West Side Rowing Club (WSRC) announced that it has received a $350,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The grant funds will support the Club’s existing outreach efforts to increase participation and diversity in its youth rowing programs over the next three years.

One of the main goals of these efforts is to help remove barriers that often come with participating in sport, such as cost, transportation, and accessibility of desired sport in select areas. WSRC is working to increase participation by youth from Buffalo communities where there has previously been no access to rowing.

“The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s grant enables the West Side Rowing Club to expand our community outreach to the youth of Western New York. The sport of rowing builds lifelong habits that positively impact communities. We thank the Foundation for its support of West Side’s mission to make our youth programs more accessible and inclusive,” said Club President Kirk Dorn.

“After a stalled 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re excited to actively use this grant for a variety of learn-to-row programs beginning in July,” Dorn added.

Through its summer learn-to-row camp for kids ages 10-16, WSRC introduces youth to the basics of the sport, while also giving interested participants the opportunity to row in a year-round program. Participants learn how to row on the Black Rock Canal in four or eight person boats in a team-oriented and fun environment. Most learn-to-row participants continue to row through local year-round scholastic or WSRC teams.

WSRC’s half-day Summer Crew Camp has been introducing Buffalo and Western New York youth to the sport of rowing for over 20 years. Starting this summer, the Club will be offering three one-week, full-day camp sessions. The full-day program will provide youngsters with a more immersive learn-to-row and team-building experience.

The WSRC has received previous support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundations Project Play Sports & Recreation initiative, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Project Play envisions a community in which all children have a chance to be active through sport regardless of income, ability, or location.

WSRC is committed to pursuing local efforts to create more access to rowing by not only getting youth involved in the sport, but by putting programs and support efforts in place to help them continue with rowing over the long term. To help achieve this goal, WSRC has partnered with other local organizations, such as the Buffalo Public Schools, Niagara Falls School District, Buffalo Collegiate Charter School, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program.

The Club is continuing to look for community partners to collaborate with, in order to provide more youth, the opportunity to row. For more information please visit www.wsrc.org.

“Sports sampling is such an important part of keeping youth active and engaged, and the West Side Rowing Club is doing this by meeting kids where they are,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “We’re excited to support WSRC in this work of bringing rowing to Buffalo’s youth and communities.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit www.rcwjrf.org.