Newport Yacht Club Endowment Fund

“The Newport Yacht Club was founded by a group of working-class people in 1894 as a ‘blue-collar’ yacht club,” says Joan Bartram, president of the Newport Yacht Club Endowment Fund. “As generations went on, the families became more prosperous so that now we have as many Teslas and Porsches as any other yacht club in the state.”

The Club has always had a community focus—the members have always assisted people in the community. “We had a “soup to the docks” program where we would deliver soup to the fisherman; community activities include the Christmas boat parade; and an art exhibit for school children.”

The Newport Yacht Club Endowment Fund started in 2003 to provide marine education; if you were a high school senior in Newport County, you were eligible to apply for this scholarship—we sent students to the Maine and Massachusetts Maritime Academies, to URI, to IYRS (International Yacht Restoration School). There is also a smaller fund—the Dawson-Pike Fund—that provides scholarship money for the junior adventure camp sailing program, which is open to students in the Newport schools who qualify for free breakfast.

Joan, who grew up sailing on Narragansett Bay, says that sailing programs have made the sport more accessible to those who cannot afford to own a boat. “It gives kids an opportunity to experience a totally different activity in a totally different environment while building the skills to solve problems—it lifts them out of their normal surroundings. Sailing gives the kids confidence, even if they don’t become lifelong sailors.”

Money to support the fund has been raised at events such as golf tournaments, dinners and auctions, and through memorials and bequests. “By 2020, we had an amount that the Committee did not feel comfortable managing. We wanted to find a way to keep the scholarship going into perpetuity and we wanted to find a better mechanism for promoting and awarding scholarships.”

Joan, as a lifelong librarian and a member of the Colonial Dames—an organization with a fund at the Foundation—says that the Rhode Island Foundation was a natural fit. “Another board member and our accountant gave RIF high recommendations so that was all it took. You guys don’t know what a great reputation you have!”