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Annual Fund

Dear Participants and Friends of the Mount Baker Rowing & Sailing Center:  First and foremost, we hope you and yours are very well during these challenging times.

We are reaching out to you today to explain how this year’s Annual Fund is different, and why.  Unlike the last few years, its purpose is not to fund new equipment.  This campaign is about assuring Mount Baker’s financial stability, now and going forward.  It’s about being ready financially to reopen boathouse programming safely and responsibly.  And it’s about having the resources when we reopen to address evolving community priorities for recreation that are appropriate for this turbulent time.

For those able to join our July 14 Zoom meeting, you heard about some specifics about our current challenges and needs.  See more details below.  The bottom line is that our spending has been curtailed to the minimum, and we need to rebuild our reserves that we have spent down in the absence of class fees.

Our Ask.  We have set an ambitious goal of $36,000 for this year’s Annual Fund campaign – that’s the sum of the expenses detailed below.  We need to raise that amount to keep Mount Baker financially sound, and to be as well-prepared as possible to retool our “Baker Strong” programs when the boathouse reopens.

Please join us by becoming a donor to the 2020 Annual Fund, to support Mount Baker’s public, inclusive mission.  Please give any amount that is comfortable and appropriate for you.  Each gift, regardless of amount, is deeply appreciated and will help to support our rowing, sailing and fitness programs.  Our campaign to raise $36,000 is scheduled to run through Sunday, July 26th.  We will end early if we meet our goal; we will continue to raise funds if necessary.

Please consider donating today, so we can reach our big goal and end our campaign as soon as possible.

Thank you, and GO BAKER!


Mark Bolender, President
Boating Advisory Council

You can donate directly to the Mount Baker Annual Fund in two ways:

  1. By credit card (preferred, given current operations constraints). Simply click on the button above to take you to ARC’s donation page and select “Mt. Baker Annual Fund” from the drop-down menu.
  2. By check. Make the check payable to “City of Seattle” and please note “Mount Baker Annual Fund” in the memo line. Mail or deliver checks to Mount Baker Rowing & Sailing Center, 3800 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle, WA


Our Finances:
All Mount Baker programming has been suspended for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Given no program fees since Winter classes, we have spent down our financial reserves to cover continued operating expenses.  We paid for our full-time coaches’ benefits, and we will pay our annual liability insurance premium.  We also have had to pay our “PAR fee” to Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) as part of our ARC operating agreement ($3,750 per month; we continue to negotiate suspending that payment during the boathouse closure).  In February, in anticipation of a busy Spring season, we serviced our truck and all launches and trailers, and replaced most of the shoes in our racing shells, at a cost of $14,000.

Fortunately, we have achieved some cost reductions.  For example, SPR has agreed going forward to pay substantial property insurance costs that we previously paid through ARC, and we have postponed hiring for our Director of Rowing position, reducing paid benefits from June.  But all our expenses above — totaling about $30,000 as of late June – would normally have been paid from program fees.  Because we have received no program fees since mid-March, those expenses have been paid out of our reserves.  We need to recoup that amount to be ready for whatever the future brings.

Our Programs:
Our beloved boathouse remains closed indefinitely, so our programming future remains cloudy.  We don’t yet know when any programs can resume, or what types of programs will be allowed within future health guidelines.  There’s no reason to expect any summer programming, and the possibility of fall programs remains uncertain.  The one thing that appears certain is that we won’t have a quick return to our pre-closure “normal” once our facility can reopen.  It’s likely our initial programming will require significant changes to comply with health-related constraints.  Classes likely will be limited to fewer participants.  That might mean we’ll need to take new approaches to scheduling, staffing, and to handling of equipment.  With any changes, we’ll need to pay our staff to define and prepare for modified operations, for both new and returning participants.

Our Evolving Priorities:
We anticipate that reopening may also involve a new set of SPR priorities under our public mission, emphasizing inclusion of more people of color and others who are disadvantaged within our community.  Mount Baker has for many years been working to find better ways to include more members of all surrounding neighborhoods.  Just before the COVID closure, we had new projects in the works with the International School on Beacon Hill and with Cleveland High School that had to be put on hold.  These programs were intended to get younger kids involved in rowing, sailing, and swimming, and to build a more locally anchored pipeline into all our boating programs.  The BAC agreed to underwrite the necessary staff and transportation expenses.  We want to re-launch this program once schools reopen but need to have the money to support it (about $3,000).  And we anticipate that more of Mount Baker’s programming, both upon reopening and in the longer term, will need a similar focus on underserved members of our community.  Even if we might, over time, fund some of this work with grants, we must first demonstrate commitment.

Preparing for Action:
Our staff has many ideas about new programming options we could try when the boathouse reopens – and about how they would deliver those options safely.  They are excited and eager about reconnecting and picking up where they left off with our programming and community.  But making that a reality will take planning and preparation – so we’ll need to pay our staff for the time that will take after their return to work.  We estimate those efforts will cost ~$3,000.  Furthermore, we expect to see greater need for financial assistance for our class participants – that’s typical during and after major economic downturns.

We will continue to confront challenges over the next several months.  But with our incredible Baker community behind us, we’re committed to ensuring that we’re “Baker Strong” and that – when we DO reopen – Mount Baker reopens on the best footing possible.  Please help us achieve these goals.