We launched our first Juneteenth Challenge in 2020. In its first year, we raised $33,616 for three not-for-profit organizations working to end systemic racism and inequality. Over 7500 athletes joined us, completing 1900 meters or more on June 19.
Concept2 is proud to announce that the Juneteenth Challenge has been added to our challenge calendar as an annual event. This is one small way that Concept2 looks to address systemic racism in our society.
In 2021, Concept2 is partnering with the Black Coaches & Rowers Association (BCRA) as the recipient of this year’s Juneteenth Challenge fundraising. BCRA inspires a new generation of athletes, provides support to the community, and changes the face of excellence in rowing. We’re excited to work with this organization that has the leadership and expertise to attract and foster talent in our sport.
"This gift will be significant in growing our organization" explains Ashley L. Pryor of BCRA. "This funding will help to enhance experiences and expand opportunities for BIPOC athletes and coaches across the country: building up youth, masters, and para programs, supporting BCRA national team athletes with scholarships, creating larger community projects, and building an endowment to secure our future."
Olympian Aquil H. Abdullah explains the impact of the BCRA. “Though I was never alone, being a black rower at GWU [George Washington University] and on the US National Rowing Team was a singular experience, because at the time there were none like me. Certainly, there were those that came before me, but with the exception of Anita DeFrantz I had no idea who they were. Any anxiety or concern that I had about being ‘the only,’ I held close to my chest because I did not want to appear weak or mentally incapable of handling the challenges of competing at the highest levels of rowing.”
“How profoundly different my journey to the Olympics might have been if the Black Coaches & Rowers Association had existed? How amazing would it have been to have the BCRA telling me ‘You belong here!’ when I doubted it myself? How powerful would it have been to have had the BCRA supporting me and giving me a voice when I didn't know that I needed support or that my voice wasn't being heard?”
Abdullah continues, “I am filled with so much hope as I engage with the BCRA working to make our sport diverse, inclusive and equitable, and I am proud to be a member of the BCRA as it strives to give a voice and support to Black coaches and rowers throughout the United States.”
Juneteenth is just one way we support racial equality. Concept2 has an equipment donation program to support ongoing efforts to diversify the face of rowing. In the past year, Concept2 has donated over $40,000 in RowErgs and oars to eighteen different rowing clubs, teams and organizations who are working on diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives. Our goal is to remove barriers so that all athletes have access to rowing.
Concept2 has also taken an active role in supporting the A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund of the George Pocock Rowing Foundation . A Concept2 Social Justice team, formed in 2020 by a group of employees, meets regularly to learn about issues, look at our business practices, and discuss opportunities. Our teams continue to find ways to reflect on the past and make a difference in the future through our actions. We are dedicated to supporting the growth of rowing for all athletes.