For thirty-five years, Courageous has been bringing kids from different communities and backgrounds together to experience the joys of sailing on Boston Harbor…and in the process, build teamwork, resilience, leadership, and so much more.
Thanks to the support of our community — you! — limited financial resources are never a barrier to getting involved with Courageous or the sport of sailing. Your gift of any size will help Courageous welcome even more young people, from a diverse array of backgrounds, to our programs.
A Look Back
Thirty five years ago, a salty South Boston sailor named Harry McDonough had a vision: use the harbor that connects Boston’s disparate neighborhoods geographically to connect kids with each other and with opportunities they might not otherwise have. Harry understood the sport’s unique power to foster teamwork, grit, and responsibility, and he knew the perfect flagship for the sailing center he was dreaming up: the Courageous. Harry’s enthusiasm swept up city leaders, the racers and owners of the America’s Cup-winning 12-Meter yacht, and a whole lot of other supporters…and the rest, asthey say, is history.
Over the years, Courageous has evolved to meet the needs of the community. As Charlestown became more gentrified, we knew we needed to do more to make access to our programs — and our sport — more equitable. Moreover, demand was growing for summer learning opportunities blending academics and fun, in response to research establishing that this type of programming is critical to addressing the summer learning loss that can leave less affluent students less ready to thrive in school than their more affluent peers.
So we established partnerships with schools serving students from underresourced neighborhoods and started a free program combining sailing, academic support, hands-on science, and swimming instruction; Swim Sail Science is still going strong today! As we identified necessary supports, we added school bus transportation, free meals, on-site social workers, year-round learning opportunities, free participation in more advanced sailing courses, and more.
Fast forward to the unprecedented challenges of the past few years. The pandemic hit our kids hard, and there is clear evidence that youth are still grappling with mental health crises and academic losses. The connections fostered at Courageous, the support of additional staff social workers, and our engaging environmental science-based academics proved to be critical in helping young people regain their academic and emotional footing. Our community has stayed strong, and even a last-minute, temporary move away from our Pier 4 home, now closed down for a year of repair, didn’t prevent 2022 from being one of our best yet...thanks in large part to all who have supported us and our kids.
“There is an incredible culture of joy and excitement…Youth are given a great deal of responsibility and are having a lot of fun while developing crucial skills like communication, teamwork, and problem solving.”