ARSN Receives $10K Grant from HRIF

Newburgh, NY – last week, America Rows and Swims Newburgh (“ARSN”) received a $10,000.00 grant from the Hudson River Improvement Fund (“HRIF”), said ARSN Director Juliana LoBiondo (“Mrs. Lo”). ARSN is an official affiliate of America Rows and USRowing, the governing body of the sport of rowing in America, and provides scholarships for underserved youth and adults in the Newburgh area to enjoy kayaking on the Hudson River, to participate in the sport of rowing on the Hudson River at the Newburgh Rowing Club and at local and regional regattas. ARSN recently became a local partner of USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash program, allowing ARSN to continue to provide free water confidence clinics to underserved youth at the Community Avenue Fitness Center in New Windsor and the Delano Hitch Pool in the City of Newburgh.

“We could not be more delighted to receive this grant from HRIF to support our kayaking, rowing, water confidence, swimming, leadership, and academic support programs,” said Mrs. Lo, who wrote this year’s grant and 3 prior grant applications to the HRIF. ARSN is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which is the successor organization of the Student Ambassador program of the Newburgh Rowing Club, said Mrs. Lo.

In 1985, the Hudson River Foundation received $1.5 million from the State of New York to establish the Hudson River Improvement Fund from monies originally paid to New York to settle litigation concerning the out-of-state export of Hudson River water by oil tankers. Through the combined efforts of Hudson River environmental organizations, including Scenic Hudson, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association (now Riverkeeper) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Improvement Fund was created to support projects that promote the enhancement of public use and enjoyment of the natural, scenic and cultural resources of the Hudson River and its shores – with an emphasis on physical projects that require capital construction, development or improvement.

“America Rows and Swims Newburgh has come a long way,” said Coach Ed Kennedy, a co-Director of ARSN and the Head Rowing Coach and Head Swim Coach of ARSN. “We started with 5 Student Ambassadors, at the Newburgh Rowing Club boathouse, a little over 4 years ago. The idea was simple, to offer scholarship-based rowing opportunities to underserved youth in the City of Newburgh. We soon discovered that the main barrier to our program was the inability to pass the swim test. Coach Stepakoff and I, former swim coaches, along with Mrs. Lo, started a volunteer run program to instill water confidence, which relied heavily on youth volunteers, who get right in the pool with each and every new water confidence candidate. We have taught hundreds of kids to survival swim, for free. We then kept many of them swimming and encourage them to come back and teach others. We have taught over a hundred kids, on scholarship, to kayak, canoe, and row. Our strongest and most committed athletes have gone on to get private high school scholarships, and to row in local and regional regattas.”

“ our greatest impact has been in and stealing water confidence in so many children in the city of Newburgh who could not even put their face in the water when they first came to us. We are the only free learn to swim program in the Newburgh area. Or second greatest impact has been in bringing more youths from the city of Newburgh down to the beautiful Hudson river which they have enjoyed it through kayaking and canoeing. In addition, we are currently the providers of the only sport at the Nora Cronin Presentation Academy, A school for low in come girls seeking to break the cycle of poverty. We are now in our third year after establishing a NCPA rowing team and the girls continue to amaze me every day,” said Mrs. Lo. “We are proud to be official affiliates of two NGO’s (national governing bodies) of Olympic sports, rowing and swimming. Our access to resources has been phenomenal. We could not have done any of this without the support of the Hudson River Improvemeny foundation, to whom we are eternally grateful. This grant allows us to continue to teach free water confidence programs; to continue to provide scholarships for Student Ambassadors to take after school rowing programs at the Newburgh Rowing Club; to expand our free afterschool swim club; to add an afterschool Boatbuilding program to our menu of free programs; and to pay for lifeguarding and refereeing classes for our Student Ambassadors and help them find summer jobs. Our final step will be to help our oldest Student Ambassadors, who started with us in 6th grade and are now sophomores in high school, find scholarships to college educations.”

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