Rocking the Boat Builds Valuable Lessons for Low-Income Youth

Located in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx, the nonprofit organization Rocking the Boat is making a huge difference in the lives of low-income youth. By teaching kids to sail, the organization strengthens math and science skills and builds self-esteem in participants.

“Kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids.”

Through its after-school and summer programs, job skills training, and an on-water classroom program, Rocking the Boat is making a difference in the lives of low-income young people between the ages of 14 and 20 who live and attend school in the community. In addition to boat-building and environmental awareness, Rocking the Boat added sail training to its On-Water program, for which they were awarded a Youth Service Improvement Grant (YSIG) from the Foundation.

Sailing has been found to help strengthen math and science abilities, but the intangible benefits of the program—team building, problem solving, and building self-esteem—may be among the most valuable lessons that the program offers the students toward their social, behavioral, and academic success. Evidence of their success is the high percentage of participants who graduate from high school on time and enroll in college–approximately 90% compared to the local average of just 35%.

The YSIG award allowed Rocking the Boat to send its part-time program assistants to SUNY Maritime College to complete basic sail training and powerboat courses. This training provided much needed support to the director, the only staff person qualified to teach sailing or operate powerboats. All program assistants are alumni of the on-water program and are offered these paid positions under the condition they are currently enrolled in local colleges or trade schools or have graduated from college.

In 2005, Rocking the Boat received its first YSIG award to support its boatbuilding and education program. This new grant will build on these previous improvements, allowing Rocking the Boat to empower more youth. Founded in 1996 as a volunteer project, Rocking the Boat has grown into an independent nonprofit organization that serves up to 3,000 youth and community members per year.

Our Youth Service Improvement Grants program supports community-based organizations in New York City to enhance their services for children and youth.

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Note: In September 2018, we will be relocating to: One Grand Central Place, 60 East 42nd Street, 43rd Floor, New York, NY 10165