The CLEVELAND ROWING FOUNDATION, previously named The Western Reserve Rowing Foundation (WRRF), was created as an umbrella organization for the expansion of rowing in the Greater Cleveland Area.
The Cleveland Rowing Foundation is now partnered with the Western Reserve Rowing Association (WRRA), a non-profit corporation founded by five rowers in the for-profit Flats Racing League in 1988. The WRRA was founded adjacent to Carter Road Bridge, one of Cleveland’s historic bridges in the FLATS. In 1989 the Flats Racing League ended its run, and in 1993 the WRRA began its Summer Rowing League. As of 2019, this program continues to be one of the country’s largest summer rowing competitions. The Western Reserve Rowing Foundation (WRRF) was formed in 1994 as a non-profit, separate from the WRRA, to help a growing body of high school, collegiate, and adult crew programs. It was established as an organization dedicated to supporting recreational and competitive racing, with a particular emphasis on youth rowing and more generally the expansion of the sport of rowing in the Greater Cleveland area.
In 2003 the WRRF changed its name to the Cleveland Rowing Foundation. In that year revised its governance structure and began to include rowing representatives as well as community and corporate leaders in its board of directors.
In 2004 the Foundation moved into a brand new 11,000 square foot facility, adjacent to its existing boat bays at Rivergate Park on the Cuyahoga River. The new facility was able to accommodate over one hundred people in the common space and included staff offices and a workout facility. At the same time, the CRF Board of Directors began to search for a new facility along the Cuyahoga River given the organization’s continual growth, seeking a space that would accommodate the needs of its member organizations and further the future of rowing in Cleveland. Working with The Trust for Public Land and with funds provided by the GUND FOUNDATION, the CRF secured new space in what was formerly the Commodore Club Marina, located at 1785 Merwin Ave, in 2010. The site consisted of a 19,000 square foot building and 6.5 acres of land. The CRF began operations at the new site at the beginning of the 2011 rowing season. Today the site is part of Rivergate Park and includes another 6,500 square feet boathouse that was added in 2015. As of 2019, the Cleveland Rowing Foundation was comprised of eight member organizations, serving over 1,500 high school, collegiate, and adult rowers.