Community Sailing Center Receives US Sailing Jim Kilroy Outstanding Inclusion and Outreach Award for Diversity Access Initiative

Posted by on Feb 11, 2022 in Uncategorized

[Burlington, VT – February 11, 2022] CSC is proud to accept the US Sailing Jim Kilroy Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion Award, one given annually to recognize programs that have made notable contributions to promote inclusivity within the sport of sailing.

In the Spring of 2021 the Community Sailing Center (CSC) launched the Sailing Diversity Access Initiative, a program designed to increase access to lake-based recreation for children who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). This program is an overlay to CSC youth camps, where annually over 450 children sail, paddle, and explore on Lake Champlain. The program grew out of the CSC’s  2020 strategic plans around dismantling systemic racism. Recognizing the historic barriers to sailing faced by people of color, board and staff created the Sailing Diversity Access Initiative. CSC sought guidance from BIPOC-led community organizations as a way to help ensure that the program would truly serve underrepresented populations, working closely with Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office’s Trusted Community Voices in building the program’s foundation.

With Trusted Community Voices as a guide, CSC crafted a multi-year, fully funded pathway as a way to inspire a lifelong love for sailing. The initiative offers campers, aged 11-15, up to 4 weeks of camp each summer for 4 years along with before- and after-care and transportation assistance. CSC aims to provide camp access to at least 50 children over the next four years,  providing a progression of  camp experiences to those who decide to continue their growth as sailors. This program takes campers on a direct path to sailing instructor positions if they so choose; at age 16 campers can become junior instructors, and at 18 can become certified instructors through US Sailing, the sport’s governing entity.

In efforts to maximize outreach and minimize language barriers CSC worked with local organizations to have the program information translated into 7 different languages, a number that the organization expects to grow. This initiative creates a new pathway for BIPOC children in our community to engage with Lake Champlain, and it is one that CSC hopes over time will change the face of sailing. 

In 2021, CSC saw 17 children register for a total of 39 camp-weeks, nearly 98% capacity. Follow-up surveys indicate excitement by campers to return for 2022, as well as interest by siblings and other family members. In 2022 CSC will reserve spots for all 2021 Diversity Access campers who wish to return, and offer another 40 camp-weeks to additional members of the BIPOC community. As of this writing, over 50% of 2021 campershave re-enrolled for 2022.

CSC is the only non-profit Sailing Center on Lake Champlain and as such uses sailing to foster stewardship, leadership, and resilience. To ensure success for diverse youth, CSC’s board has made a long-term commitment to examine all current programming through the lens of racial and economic equity. 

From a parent of a camper last year:

“It was a beautiful opportunity. We go to the beaches a lot but we hadn’t spent much time out on the lake. My daughter liked everything about sailing camp. It was great for her. She did the yoga camp and some of the day was in the room, and some was outside and it was all great for her. She didn’t do a lot of camp this summer and I think she really appreciated the social time and seeing other kids. Whether it was doing stuff in the class or being out on the water she was super excited to get up and go every day. She loved her class, and her counselors did a great job. She was just so happy to go every day.

The transportation assistance is awesome to eliminate barriers and super helpful and very important. I think for a lot of the kids’ programs, whatever the sport or co-curricular activities are, transportation is a huge barrier. We really appreciate your efforts on that front. I think it’s awesome that you all are making it sustainable and long term. We’d like them to continue to develop the skills and stay connected to the program.” – Melodie’s Dad


Support for this initiative was generously provided by the George W. Mergens Foundation, VSECU, the Waterwheel Foundation, Vermont Afterschool, and the Outdoor Gear Exchange Foundation. CSC also sends a huge thank you to Ned Castle of Frames to Life Productions for capturing CSC’s acceptance of such a prestigious award. 

Ned Castle / Frames to Life Productions /




About the Community Sailing Center:

The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center is a community based 501(c) (3) organization with a mission to encourage and celebrate responsible use and long-term stewardship of Lake Champlain by fostering educational and recreational opportunities for all members of our community, regardless of age, gender, race, physical ability, or financial means. . For more information, please contact Jessica Chadwell at 802-864-2499 or