There is magic to rowing.
It’s the magic of making a sixty-foot boat fly.
It is the alchemy that converts water, sinew, steel, brains, sweat, carbon fiber, spirit, grace, camaraderie, 2000-meter races, raw power, pain and passion into lifelong possibilities for nine young people who make a boat go and who make it win.
Rowing is a crucible in which young athletes discover what they never thought they could do. Where they build emotional resilience. Where they learn how to learn and how to lead. Rowing prepares young heads and hearts for a world of challenge and opportunity – and for a world that will need their leadership.
The Chicago Rowing Foundation is dedicated to making that magic happen. CRF has thrived over the years since its founding by embracing three principles.
The first is a commitment to competitiveness. Under a staff of world class coaches, CRF crews have qualified and succeeded at the National Junior Rowing Championship year after year. That success is about more than bragging rights, trophies and banners in the boat house. Working hard, rowing fast and winning races is a source of our students’ pride, fulfillment and commitment to their crew mates that will stay with them for a lifetime. What’s more, winning attracts the attention of college coaches.
Which is important, because the second principle of CRF is that rowing should be a springboard to higher education. All of CRF’s high school athletes – one hundred percent – have gone on to matriculate in universities all over the country. Nearly three quarters have continued rowing in college and half have been awarded rowing scholarships and aid totaling over $5 million since 1998.
And that underscores CRF’s third principle, which is that there be no financial barriers to high school and middle school students who want to row. Since its founding in 1998, CRF provides financial aid to all participants who needed it. One-third of our students are on free or reduced lunch - annually CRF provides $100,000 in scholarship aid. CRF serves any student with passion, ability and potential, not just those from families who can pay the cost of a nationally competitive program.
Our goal is to touch even more of Chicago’s youth with the magic of rowing. Our goal is to continue winning races. And our goal is to maintain our record of seeing every one of our athletes enter college and launch a life of leadership.