HOCR x Gold Cup Grant Fund

The Head of the Charles Regatta and the Gold Cup of Philadelphia Partner to Support Rowing Programs in Under-Resourced Communities

BOSTON, July 13, 2020 – Two iconic American rowing institutions today announced that they will partner to create a new fund that will provide financial and programmatic support to emerging and under-resourced rowing programs throughout the United States, as part of a new commitment to create more inclusivity and diversity within the sport of rowing.

The Head Of The Charles Regatta of Boston and the Gold Cup of Philadelphia will join forces to provide $100,000 in seed capital to launch the Head Of The Charles/Gold Cup Fund that will make annual grants to rowing programs that serve under-resourced youth and communities throughout the US. The fund also will provide in-kind equipment and mentoring services that will allow the programs to field competitive teams of 19-and-under youth.

In addition, the new fund will immediately launch a nationwide fundraising campaign to encourage contributions to the fund as it creates an endowment for ongoing annual grant-making.

“It is long past time for the sport of rowing to honestly confront its lack of diversity and implement concrete actions to attract, mentor and retain a diverse set of athletes, coaches and supporters,” said Blair Crawford, chair of the board of the Head Of The Charles Regatta. “As a highly visible leader in the sport, the Head Of The Charles Regatta must do better. Establishing this fund is just the beginning phase of our intentional and sustained commitment to supporting greater equity in rowing.”

Since its beginning, the sport of rowing has primarily been made up of white athletes and has been seen as posing significant barriers to entry in terms of access to boathouses, boats and other equipment, and training and coaching opportunities. While there has been a growth in the number of rowing outreach programs for youth from economically disadvantaged communities in recent years, many of them continue to be significantly under resourced and lacking in ongoing financial and community support.

“The Head Of The Charles/Gold Cup Fund is designed to provide capital, equipment and opportunities to this new ecosystem of rowing programs and help position them for continuing success in their efforts to field competitive teams made up of promising young athletes,” said William McNabb, one of the founders of The Gold Cup regatta of Philadelphia. “One of the particularly important elements of our fund is its commitment to provide year-long mentors from the rowing community and access to ongoing connections.”

The new fund will be overseen by a diverse board made up representatives of the two organizations, along with civic leaders from the two host cities, as well as members of the business and sports communities.

The new entity envisions making annual grants of $5,000 to $20,000 to a maximum of eight rowing programs that will be selected each year as part of a competitive application process by a Grant Review Committee. The committee will be primarily comprised of rowers of color from throughout the United States. In addition to choosing the grantees, the committee members will serve as mentors to each of the programs throughout the year. Olympic and world-class rowers from throughout the world also will serve as mentors to the chosen programs.

In order to be eligible for funding, rowing programs need to be committed to fielding competitive racing teams for youth 19 and under who come from under-resourced communities and may be unable to access a range of supports and services. The programs need to be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all of their efforts, as well as following USRowing Safe Sport standards.


More information about the Head Of The Charles/Gold Cup Fund application process and eligibility criteria, along with a PDF of the application itself can be found on the Head Of The Charles Regatta and The Gold Cup websites. Any questions about the fund should be directed to GoldCupHOCRgrant@gmail.com.





Since its origin in 1965, the Head Of The Charles Regatta has welcomed the best crew teams throughout the globe to the banks of the Charles River in Boston each October for the world’s largest, two-day rowing regatta. It annually attracts 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of spectators who come to see the ultimate rowing competition. The regatta is overseen by a 15-member board of directors, which oversees an 11-member racing committee, and nearly 2,000 volunteers who prepare all year for the two-day sporting event.


The Gold Cup, otherwise known as The Philadelphia Challenge Cup, began in 1920 during the heyday of Philadelphia rowing. The event pitted the best amateur male single scullers in the world against each other. The first recipient of the cup was John B. Kelly Sr., the renowned Philadelphia Olympian. The contest and the cup disappeared in the early 1960s, but reemerged in 2011 when a group of Philadelphia rowing enthusiasts found the long-lost cup and reinstated the event and its tradition of single scull rowing prominence, along with expanding the competition to include women.