LIC organization first Queens-based nonprofit to win prestigious award

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There are more than 4,200 non-profits in the borough, representing 15 percent of the New York City total, but no Queens organization has ever won a prestigious New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Award. Until now.

Row New York, a 12-year-old Long Island City-based organization that empowers youth from under-resourced communities, was one of three nonprofits to win the award Nov. 20. The three organizations were recognized for their outstanding management practices.

“We’re very excited about it,” Row New York Founder and Executive Director Amanda Kraus said. “It’s a seal of approval when someone that is respected takes a long look at your organization and decides, after careful analysis, that yes — they are a good nonprofit.”

The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee sponsors the award.

“Basically, it’s a trade association for nonprofits,” awards committee member Diana Davenport said. “We’re experts at analysis and run a really nice and successful program and people really pay attention to the winners. They can use the award to generate more interest and press recognition. This helps them in their fund-raising because people will know that their money is going to a well-run, professional organizati­on.”

Row New York began in 2002 with the simple idea that competitive rowing paired with rigorous academic support for underserved youth could change the trajectory of their teen years and beyond. Row New York teams have medaled at the New York State championship for six years in a row and compete regularly at regional regattas against athletes who have every advantage.

Each girl averages 1,008 hours in the year-round intensive program and it’s not all on the water. The program offers intensive academic tutoring and college preparedness with nearly 100 percent going on to higher learning, most on scholarship.

“We get girls from neighborhoods like Flushing and Jamaica, from schools that don’t have much in the way of athletics, and we teach them the sport of rowing,” Kraus said. “Rowing is the ultimate team sport where there are no stars. It’s not always fun, it’s hard work, but you push through it and see the rewards. It helps to forge character. They travel, compete and transform into strong confident women.”

The awards are based on eight areas of excellence: focus on results; governance structure; financial management; human resources; diversity and responsiveness; information technology; communications; and fund-raising.

“Amanda crafted her organization after our eight areas of excellence,” Davenport said.

Kraus agreed, saying the focus on the eight areas helped Row New York develop into a well-run organization. “We’re just over a decade old with just 23 full-timers on staff; these other winners have been around for 120 years,” she said.

Leake & Watts was founded as an orphanage in 1831 and continues to give support to thousands of children. Graham Windham was founded in 1806 providing innovative child welfare and youth development programs.

As for being the first Queens nonprofit to win the award, Knaus said, “We are very aware of that, but I think Queens doesn’t get the attention it deserves for all the great works its nonprofits are doing.”

Posted 12:00 am, November 28, 2014
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Reader feedback

Martin from Manhattan says:
Not sure why a sexist organization is getting such props. When I was a rower growing up in NYC I was desperate to find a place to row as NYAC was too far (New Rochelle) to go. Had RowNY been around then I would have been turned away because I am male. Even Bette Midler balked when RowNY took over for a club that was running her diversity program on the Harlem River. RowNY is a club team not a high school or college where the AD would have to worry about gender imbalance due to the football population. Clubs shouldn't be allowed to perpetuate some sort of pink apartheid. After, we need to get male youth off of the street (or couch) and onto the playing fields (or water).
Nov. 28, 2014, 11:28 am
Rick from Queens from Jamaica says:
Hello, Row New York does have a boys program. Also, not sure why you think Bette Midler balked at anything. Her group asked Row NY to take over their boathouse. Great group serving great girls and boys !
Nov. 28, 2014, 3:59 pm
Gh from Washington Heights says:
Row N.Y. Started as a girls only program in their queens location. It would be nice for the article to mention that in Manhattan it's a coed program.

Rowing or Crew as it's technically known faces a disadvantage four men in the n.c.a.a. As it's only a scholarship sport for women. Traditionally used to counter football for title ix purposes.

Having been to a number of regattas where rny is an underdog as they may not be the best teams. They are still upstart team compared to those perennials power houses with huge financial and family support. I attend these to support my nephew and the rny Manhattan team.
Dec. 1, 2014, 5:11 am

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