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Three worthy causes for kids

Getting kids on the water, keeping them safe there and looking to provide long-term educational opportunities are among the outstanding initiatives of boating organizations that deserve recognition and, where applicable, duplication elsewhere. Here are three worthy ones:

The BoatUS Foundation’s remarkable Life Jacket Loaner Program began in 1997. Today, there are more than 550 loaner sites nationwide that collectively loan out children’s PFDs more than 140,000 times a year. And the foundation wants to see the number of sites increase this year.

BoatUS has streamlined the means to become a new loaner site with an application cycle that allows marinas, boat clubs, waterfront restaurants or government agencies to apply at any time and speeds up the review process.

Typically a boater will borrow a life jacket(s) for an afternoon or weekend, usually to accommodate guests. “We also know kids grow fast and sometimes boaters need a correctly-sized jacket for a youngster,” BoatUS Foundation outreach manager Alanna Keating said. “There is no charge for the use of life jackets and the BoatUS Foundation replenishes the supply of jackets as wear-and-tear takes its toll.”

Approved locations receive a kit containing 12 children’s life jackets with sizes from infant to youth as well as signage and a local publicity kit. Loaner host sites simply need to track usage with an easy signout system and provide the foundation with periodic feedback. The best loaner sites will be accessible to the boating public, serve a large boating population and be located in areas without current loaner programs.

There is no cost to become a loaner site. Apply at

The Massachusetts Marine Trades Educational Trust is accepting applications for its “Kids in Boating” program that strives to provide support to programs that get more kids on the water.

Specifically, the initiative aims to support non-profit youth boating programs already in place in Massachusetts. The goal is to challenge these groups to get more new kids on the water in a safe and smart manner.

“By getting more kids involved in boating at an early age, they are more apt to continue boating when they are older,” MMTA executive director Randall Lyons said. “We’re looking at opportunities where we can support — either by financial means or in another manner — various programs and events that focus on boating avenues and opportunities for kids.”

MMTA members and organizations with creative new program ideas to get “Kids in Boating” are given a preference. Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $500 to $1,500.

Four organizations deserve recognition for stepping up to initially sponsor “Kids in Boating.” They are 3A Marine, Robalo Boats, MyTaskit and Newburyport Marinas.

Finally, the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association Educational Foundation is a scholarships and student financial aid program. It has awarded more than $115,000 in higher education grants to deserving students with particular emphasis on those planning to pursue careers in the boating industry.

The foundation’s major annual fundraising event is the 2017 Norm Schultz Open Golf Tournament, which is set for Sept. 11 at Ohio’s prestigious Catawba Island Club. (Yes, I’m honored that it bears my name because it’s a first-class event for a very good cause.)

Foundation supporters who aren’t prone to chase a little white ball aren’t left out, either. The day also offers a Lake Erie Cruise & Fishing Tournament. In addition to directly participating in all pf the day’s activities and meals, sponsorship opportunities ranging from hole or tee sponsors to fishing team sponsorships with appropriate signage credit are available.

Information is available by calling the LEMTA offices at 440-899-5009, Ext. 13.


One comment on “Three worthy causes for kids

  1. Heather Steinberger

    Thank you so much for reporting on these great programs! I work with the team at West Marine, and we support all of these outstanding efforts to get kids on the water. West Marine also is dedicated to providing young people with access to the water; twice a year, through its nonprofit BlueFuture program, West Marine awards unrestricted grants to nonprofit, youth-focused organizations in communities across the country that get kids out on the water in a variety of educational and recreational capacities. Interest in our grants program is growing; we’ve already reached a record number of applications in our current grant cycle, which closes May 1. If you’d like to learn more, please visit And thanks again for covering this important topic!

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