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Community Rowing, Inc.

Program Background

The CRI Innovation Fund was created to increase the growth of rowing as an integral part of American life, by providing seed money and support for new ideas that will improve either the quality of rowing currently, or access to the sport in the United States. Recognizing that innovators in the sport frequently lack the resources to implement their ideas in the earliest stage, the Innovation Fund seeks to jumpstart innovation by providing financial support and management expertise for ideas that otherwise would not have the opportunity to flourish. Leveraging the experience of a seasoned group of venture capitalists and the existing infrastructure at Community Rowing, the Innovation Fund creates a pipeline to explore and test ideas to bring the sport to a new level.

The Innovation Fund Committee invites applicants to submit a complete proposal and business plan to the committee for review. The Committee will award between $2,500 and $20,000 to up to three applicants; awards will be paid out quarterly, based on an agreed upon, stage gated schedule. As part of the application process, the committee will host educational events that may include seminar online or in person for potential applicants. Applicants may receive mentoring and additional support services from the Committee. Should the innovation be successful, reinvestment in the Fund and the mission of “Rowing for All” will be included as part of the agreement.

The Innovation Fund is not intended as a long term source of support or capital for innovation. Successful applicants will receive a one-time grant of between $5k and $20k, and the Committee and CRI will work with successful applicants to bring their idea to fruition and collaborate to deliver a full compliment of funders after the first round of investment has been provided.

What should be in my application?  

Each applicant should include the following documents in her or his proposal:

  • A brief description of your idea, the problem that it solves, and the proposed implementation process. 1 page maximum.
  • An overview of existing market conditions and the opportunity that you have identified. 1 page maximum.
  • A proposed budget for the first year of the project, and a pro forma 3 year budget. 1 page for the first year budget, 1 page for the three year budget.
  • A proposed timeline, with specific stage gates for the development of the idea.


Applications to the Fund are accepted on a rolling basis; the CRI Innovation Fund Committee meets at least every quarter to review applications. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Respondents may be asked for further clarification, or an interview, before a final determination for funding is made.

How to Submit An Application


marcia_hooper_130x150px.jpg  Marcia Hooper
Ms. Hooper is President of HooperLewis, LLC, a venture advisory and investment firm specializing in assisting entrepreneurs bridge the development gap from founding to first institutional capital. She has been an active venture capitalist since 1985 having served as a partner at Advent International, Ampersand Ventures, and Castile Ventures. Prior to 1983 she was a regional marketing support representative for IBM. Ms. Hooper has served as a director for over two dozen privately-held companies and six public companies. She serves in a number of advisory and fundraising capacities for Brown University, the Head of the Charles Regatta, and the National Rowing Foundation. She earned her MBA from the Harvard School of Business Administration, a MA in Chemistry from Columbia, and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from Brown University.


Ernie Parizeau
Retired Partner – Norwest Venture Partners (

Ernie is an Adjunct Professor in Entrepreneurship at Babson College ( and Franklin Olin College of Engineering ( where he has taught courses on starting new businesses, and on venture capital. He is also an instructor in the Middlebury College MiddCORE program (

Ernie was a partner at Norwest Venture Partners ( for over 20 years, and invested in early stage companies in the software, semiconductor, communications, health care, education, and retail industries. He retired from Norwest in 2007. 

Ernie is a Trustee of The Cape Eleuthera Foundation (The Island School) (, Noble and Greenough School (, and Newton Wellesley Hospital. He is a member of the advisory board of the Middlebury College Project on Creativity and Innovation in the Liberal Arts (, the advisory board of the Middlebury College Center for Social Entrepreneurship (, and the Dartmouth College President’s Leadership Council.Ernie graduated from Dartmouth College with an AB degree in Engineering Sciences in 1979 and an MBA in 1984. He rowed on the lightweight team at Dartmouth. Ernie’s only claim to rowing fame is being launched into the Charles halfway through a Harvard/MIT/Dartmouth race after catching a massive crab.


R. Gregg Stone
R. Gregg Stone has been active in the investment business for over forty years from the seed stages of companies’ development as an angel investor and board member to helping guide substantial charitable endowments. Gregg currently serves as the Chairman of PHT Corp., a pharmaceutical service company based in Charlestown, Massachusetts and serves as a director of Cambridge Trust Company and two private companies. Before founding Kestrel in 1996, Gregg worked at Pell, Rudman & Co. Inc. (now Atlantic Trust Company), a Boston-based investment adviser, after practicing law with Hemenway & Barnes in Boston. He holds J.D. and A.B. degrees from Harvard. He is a director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and Camp Pasquaney and a trustee emeritus of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is also an active masters sculler and coached his daughter to 7th place in the single at the London Olympic Games.

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Jane Morse
Jane Morse serves as a trustee of Community Rowing Inc. and a board member of the Boston Rowing Foundation. She worked as a consultant in information technology management, retiring as a senior executive of the former BayBank and BankBoston, where she headed the technology planning department. Upon retiring, Jane began rowing and since that time has become a gold medalist at Masters National and International Masters Competitions. She served as a board member at Community Rowing for ten years and as CRI's Board President for seven years from 2003 through the end of 2009, Jane led CRI's $15 million capital campaign to build a new boathouse.

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Deb Kemper
Deb Kemper is an angel investor and mentor to start-up companies. She is a member of two angel networks, Golden Seeds and Clean Energy Venture Group. Deb was a consultant with McKinsey & Company where she served clients in a variety of industries including energy, utilities, electronics, and healthcare. Her functional experience includes manufacturing, product development, operations, strategy, professional development, and leadership coaching. She has provided leadership support to organizations in China, Peru, and the United States.

Deb has served on non-profit Boards of Directors in the United States, Peru, and China. In addition, she was the founding organizer for TEDxShanghaiWomen in 2012, which was the first TEDxWomen event in mainland China. She has spoken in various forums on women in leadership and social entrepreneurship.

Deb earned her MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College where she was named an Edward Tuck Scholar. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Cornell University where she graduated With Distinction and was a member of the Varsity Women’s Crew. She has recently repatriated after living overseas in Peru and China for 8 years. She resides in Newton with her husband and two children.