The Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association (BSRA), a nonprofit community-based organization founded in 2010, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The grant will be used for the construction and management of the BSRA’s new rowing center under construction at 405 Ohio St. in Buffalo’s Old First Ward on the Buffalo River.
This significant assist, the largest gift of philanthropic support in the organization’s history, will help BSRA nearly cap off its $2.1 million capital campaign, joining other supporters including Mr. & Mrs. James Wadsworth, The John R. Oishei Foundation, The Seneca Nation, M&T Bank, The Baird Foundation, William Paladino, The Local Ironworkers, and Ellicott Development Company. According to the BSRA, $250,000 is remaining to complete the campaign.
In addition to construction, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s grant will also provide support for BRSA to hire two additional full-time staff to assist with the management and programming of the boathouse.
Construction is currently underway on the new boathouse, which will be named the Patrick Paladino Memorial Boathouse based on the original donation of land from the Paladino family to BSRA.
“My family is very grateful for this very generous donation from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation that will provide us the majority of the remaining proceeds necessary to get the building completed by spring 2018,” said William Paladino, CEO of Elliott Development. This donation, along with the donations and support of all our other donors and friends, has made this project a reality at last. Our hope is this facility will have a positive impact on the young minds and schoolchildren it will mainly serve, along with all others using the facility.”
When completed, the new boathouse on Ohio Street will annually serve youth, adult and disabled athletes from Western New York, as well as members of the community seeking to learn or develop in rowing or water sports and those who simply want to enjoy an access point to the Buffalo River.
The new facility will also provide classroom, office and fitness/training space; locker rooms and boat storage; and more opportunities for disabled athletes to participate in adaptive rowing programs. A final phase, after erecting and enclosing the boathouse, is currently underway to build in sidewalks, landscape, walkways, railings, dock installation, ramping and other comfort amenities for guests to the Middle Harbor.
“The completion of our new boathouse will allow the BSRA to greatly enhance our program offerings and increase public access to the Buffalo River for athletic reasons,” said BSRA Board President Mark Kostrzewski. “We are truly honored and humbled to be awarded such a significant grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and will do our very best to honor Mr. Wilson’s great legacy by building a facility that will benefit every segment of our society.”
“This was a great opportunity to join other funders in helping to bring the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association closer to the finish line in completing the new boathouse,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications for the Foundation. “We’re not only excited for this project to introduce new water sports and recreation opportunities to more students from the local public schools and the broader community, but also the potential for this center to connect to other recreational paths for walking and hiking around the Middle Harbor and the Buffalo River.”
The mission of the BSRA is to provide community access to rowing on the Buffalo River through a wide variety of inclusive programs. The organization currently offers Adult (Masters), Learn-to-Row and We Can Row programs throughout the year. BSRA currently serves scholastic members from seven local high schools including South Park, Bishop Timon - St. Jude, Buffalo Seminary, Canisius, Mount Mercy Academy, St. Mary's of Lancaster and Maritime Charter School.
About the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association (BSRA)
In 2009, a group of life-long rowers established the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association with the intent of expanding the footprint of the sport of rowing in Western New York. With three boats and 30 athletes, the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association was born. The Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association (BSRA), a 501 (c) 3, is an association of seven scholastic rowing teams and community based rowing clubs with an expressed purpose to facilitate safe and equitable access to the Buffalo River for new and emerging rowing programs and the general public. The association is a rowing cooperative requiring each member group to assume responsibility for its programs to the extent financially possible.
Because Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association acts as a facilitating organization, all member groups have a strong decision-making role within BSRA. Each member organization has a seat on the BSRA Board of Directors. This guarantees a direct role in day-to-day rowing operations as well as charting the future of the Association. Currently, there are seven scholastic programs including South Park High School, Maritime Charter School, Canisius High School, Buffalo Seminary, Mount Mercy Academy of South Buffalo, Bishop Timon - St. Jude High School and St. Mary’s, as well as an adult program, the Buffalo Masters Rowing Club and a team of breast cancer survivors, We Can Row: Buffalo.
About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
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 rcwjrf.org.