OKLAHOMA CITY (September 27, 2023) – Rower, bestselling and award-winning author, and founder of national non-profit A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund (AMBTIF), Arshay Cooper will present an AMBTIF 2023-2024 grant to the RIVERSPORT Foundation on Saturday, September 30, at 6:00 p.m. during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival.

RIVERSPORT is being honored for breaking down barriers in the sport of rowing through their youth programs.

Cooper will be joined by 2004 Olympian and AMBTIF Board Chair, Aquil Abdullah, and 2008 and 2012 Olympian and AMBTIF Board Member, David Banks.

Athletes from RIVERSPORT’s youth rowing program will do an exhibition row and be recognized during the presentation.

“RIVERSPORT is creating opportunities and showcasing possibilities in the sport of rowing for young people of color in Oklahoma City,” Cooper said. “This grant will support their efforts in areas such as swim lessons that will help young people to feel comfortable and confident on the water, funding for travel to regional and national regattas, and a stipend to compensate a coach of color in their program.

“This level of commitment enables a community to support their athletes across all levels of the sport- from youth development- to college- and beyond. AMBTIF is thrilled to partner with RIVERSPORT and honored to support Oklahoma City youth.”

RIVERSPORT’s youth rowing programs bring youth from across Oklahoma City into the sport with Title 1 schools participating at no cost. This fall, F.D. Moon and Southeast Middle Schools both added teams bringing the total number of schools represented to 16.

“Since our earliest days, we’ve been working to make rowing more inclusive,” said Mike Knopp, executive director of the RIVERSPORT Foundation. “We have a great partner in the Oklahoma City Public Schools and our hope is to get every middle school involved over the next couple of years.”

“Today we have hundreds of kids in our programs and are seeing the face of rowing change before our eyes. It’s pretty inspiring.”

RIVERSPORT, in partnership with Shawntay Alexander and the OKC Black Alumni Coalition, proudly hosted the 2022 and 2023 River Bowl Classic regatta, an annual reunion that has been a catalyst for getting the Black community engaged in the sport.

“River Bowl stands as a beacon of inspiration by igniting the flames of collective empowerment in the Black community,” Alexander said.

The grant award is being presented during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival. The event features three days of rowing and paddlesport racing on the Oklahoma River in the Boathouse District. Admission to the event is free; parking is $10. The presentation will be held at the RIVERSPORT Finish Line Tower located at 606 RIVERSPORT Drive. Visit riversportokc.org to learn more about the event.