Just like a race on the water, the race to reach our Annual Fund goal of $60,000 by the end of the year will be the result of the collective effort of our friends, community, and supporters. When you give to PCR, you're helping us change the lives of hundreds of young Philadelphians by giving them access to the transformative sport of rowing and empowering them to reach their greatest potential in life. PCR's annual fund supports every part of our budget including facility maintenance, equipment purchases, SAT prep and tutoring, college counseling, race entry fees, and professional development for our coaches. Your gift has a direct impact on the quality of our programs and the lives of our student-athletes.
Below you will find the full version of our 2020 appeal letter. We understand that the uncertainty of the pandemic has affected everyone differently and finances are incredibly tight for many. During these challenging times, please remember that no amount is too small to make a difference in the operations of our programs and in the lives of the young people we serve.
Dear Friends of PCR,
The Coronavirus has interrupted all of our lives and altered many of our longstanding plans. The last several months have been difficult, and I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. July 2020 marked our 10th year of empowering students from the Philadelphia School District to reach their greatest potential on and off the water. Although we had hoped to celebrate this milestone in a different way, our staff and board’s commitment to our mission remains strong.
As we begin the 2020-2021 school year, our students are doing all of their learning & school work online. While the Pandemic's uncertainty is frustrating for everyone, the consequences are not equal and have fallen heavily along racial and socioeconomic lines. Our work to support our participants' physical and mental health is more important than ever before.
PCR is committed to being a constant in our student-athletes' lives during this difficult time – a source of unwavering support, strength, and hope – and a place where they can safely maintain their fitness and critical social connections to their peers and coaches. To successfully follow the health and safety guidelines from the School District and Department of Public Health, we did not accept any new novice or middle school athletes this fall. Despite limiting our enrollment, we are thrilled to have 100 returning student-athletes participating in our rigorous sports-based youth development programs this fall.
2020 has been a year full of challenges. If you typically give at the end of the year or have previously supported PCR by attending our Annual Fall Fundraiser, we hope you will instead make your gift today. Your donation is more important than ever as this year as foundations and corporations have pulled back or changed their giving priorities. Some crucial ways your contribution can help are included below.
Although the Pandemic has forced us to slow down, our programs have grown tremendously over the last several years. In the fall of 2019, our competitive high school program used all of our boats nearly every day, often still having athletes remain on land. Our middle school program also reached full capacity last year, resulting in us having to waitlist potential participants. Despite canceling our spring and summer in-person programming, we still reached nearly 260 Philadelphia public school students from more than 40 different schools last year. Of the students who participated, 51% were from low-income families, and 59% were student-athletes of color.
This fall, we are trying to make the most of the hand the Pandemic has dealt us and look forward to getting back to our 2019 level of growth once the Pandemic has subsided. Because the School District chose a fully virtual start for the school year, our programs have largely followed suit with our returning varsity student-athletes beginning the year with an entirely virtual program. Our 8th and 9th-grade participants are doing a hybrid program of online and in-person training. Even though we are battling high-speed internet connections instead of winds this fall, we continue the same critical work we started ten years ago. In addition to providing rigorous rowing and fitness training, we also moved all of our academic and enrichment services online to continue to meet our student-athletes' academic and social-emotional needs.
While it’s still unclear exactly how the remainder of the school year or the spring racing season will play out, we know that significant budget cuts are planned across the School District of Philadelphia and within other city departments. These cuts will devastate a system that, for years, has struggled to meet the basic needs of its students, and will only further widen the gap between “the haves” and “the have nots.” While the school year has just begun, it’s clear that students from more affluent families and school districts have more access to educational resources, opportunities for sport participation, safe modes of transportation, and adequate nutrition than districts serving mostly Black, Latinx, and low-income students. These inequities are especially prevalent here in Pennsylvania, where students face one of the largest gaps of any state in the country in per-child spending between the commonwealth’s poorest and wealthiest school districts.
Philadelphia City Rowing is a small but nimble organization that prides itself on successfully reaching some of our city’s most under-resourced students. We need your continued support to combat the disparate impact of the Pandemic and ensure that Philadelphia’s public school students have equitable access to the academic support and safe, healthy out of school time activities they deserve.
Your gift will not only help PCR change the lives of the hundreds of young people we serve each year, but it will also help us lay the foundation for our next ten years of success. We are incredibly grateful for your past support and hope we can count on you in the future!
*Please note the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a new above-the-line deduction for non-itemizers' 2020 charitable contributions up to $300. The bill also lifts the existing cap for those who itemize, raising it from 60% of adjusted gross income to 100%