Five Questions With: Brad Read

BRAD READ is executive director of Sail Newport. / COURTESY SAIL NEWPORT
BRAD READ is executive director of Sail Newport. / COURTESY SAIL NEWPORT

An amateur sailor, Brad Read is an eight-time world or North American champion helmsman and currently serves as the executive director of Sail Newport – a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to sailing opportunities for students, municipal organizations and the general public. A native of Seekonk, Mass., Read sails out of Sail Newport.

PBN: Sail Newport recently received a $500,000 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation to help fund its Campaign for Blue Space and construction of a new education and recreation center at Fort Adams State Park. How integral was that funding in realizing the new facility?

READ: We were thrilled and honored to receive such a generous donation from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. The foundation’s priorities are supporting landscapes and built environments, alternative pathways to help students learn and thrive and engaging the community to make healthy choices easy and accessible. We actually hit on all three cylinders, which speaks to Sail Newport’s contribution to Newport County. Their financial support and vote of confidence gave our campaign a significant lift.

PBN: The Campaign for Blue Space is looking to raise $10 million, not a small number. How would you categorize the nature of fundraising in Rhode Island today?

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READ: Because of Rhode Island’s vibrant nonprofit community, it’s always competitive to raise capital funds. However, this is the largest campaign Sail Newport has engaged in during its 34-year history and our donors have been extremely generous and supportive from the start.

PBN: Do you think donors and investors may be more willing to give to the campaign because it facilitates interaction with Rhode Island waterways and being outdoors?

READ: Yes. Just as access to green space is valued worldwide, more and more people are realizing the value of “blue space” as well. We have thousands of sailors who appreciate the gem of Narragansett Bay and want to preserve public access to the water for recreation. Also, this is our opportunity to offer non-sailors a new experience of living around the ocean.

PBN: Is there a deadline for fundraising and, now that Sail Newport has raised $6 million toward its $10 million goal, do you foresee any obstacles reaching that deadline?

READ: We would like to reach our goal in the next year. Even though we are more than halfway there, we still have to work hard to inspire our community to join the campaign and donate to Sail Newport.

PBN: In terms of providing education about Rhode Island’s waterways, what services or programs can residents expect from the new center at Fort Adams State Park?

READ: The new center will enhance Sail Newport’s ability to offer year-round marine education and expand our sailing season further into the shoulder months. We will now have a warm home base for sailors and multiple new classrooms for lectures on boating safety, learning to sail, ocean sustainability and marine-related topics offered in partnership with other nonprofits.