About Homestretch Foundation
The Homestretch Foundation™ is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides free temporary housing and other support for working women living or earning below the poverty line, with a focus on women who have careers in endurance sports.
We provide financial support and life-skill building opportunities for adult women of limited socioeconomic background, with a focus on women pursuing careers in endurance sports such as cycling, triathlon, swimming or running.
Socioeconomic participation barriers are even more significant for women, as in addition to the factors noted above, the opportunities for professional compensation or sponsorship in women’s endurance sports are severely limited. For example, in professional bicycling, male professionals are guaranteed a minimum annual base salary of 35,000 Euro (approximately $40,000 USD) by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale; the international body that establishes the rules for professional cycling). There is no guaranteed annual base salary for women. The average annual base salary for women, including some of the most established female professional cyclists, is approximately $10,000. Some contracts offer little to no compensation at all, or only reimbursement of certain expenses. This pattern of financial inequity is repeated across many other sports.
There are many programs, such as El Grupo Youth Cycling, that provide access for youth or students to resources and equipment needed to participate in athletics. Once athletes “age out” of these programs, however, there are limited resources available for adult elite athletes from lesser socioeconomic backgrounds who might wish to continue their participation (either as an amateur, professional or Olympic hopeful).
Homestretch Foundation was established to provide resources, such as subsidized housing, to adult women earning or living at the poverty line (as defined by U.S. Federal guidelines). Our hope is to support women and provide them with resources to be to continue their athletic profession, and to thereby build skills and connections that will benefit their post-athletic careers, health and wellness.
What We Offer
Housing: We provide subsidized room and board, based at a residential property located in Tucson, Arizona, for periods of up to six months. By providing subsidized housing and board, Homestretch Foundation provides a source of support for our resident-athletes.
Resident-Athlete Support and Resources: We also provide access to discounted or free services, such as coaching, training, medical / dental, physical therapists and medical rehabilitation professionals. The majority of professional or aspiring elite endurance athletes pay for their own health insurance or only have access to insurance through a working spouse or family member. They also pay personally for individualized coaching, nutrition and other medical professional advice that support them in their training and recovery. To alleviate the financial burden of healthcare costs, the Homestretch Foundation has established relationships with coaching services and medical professionals that have agreed to donate their services in support of our residents.
Mentoring, Career and Personal Development: We also provide mentoring, career support and networking, focused in the areas of activism, media / journalism, technology, the life sciences and business. Our aim is to provide a “jump start” for our selected resident-athletes by exposing them to people and skills relating to their particular area of interest. We believe these initiatives can provide value by preparing highly motivated, high performing individuals to make more immediate and successful transitions to occupations after sports. Opportunities we provide for resident or alumni athletes include:
o Mentor program: In addition to selecting our resident-athletes based on athleticism and income, we also consider their educational background and long-term aspirations. If an athlete is selected to reside at Homestretch Foundation, we may connect them with a Board member, or with other individuals, who can provide advice, support and connections.
o Contract and salary negotiations: The members of our Board have significant business and negotiating experience, and knowledge of how professional team contracts are structured. They also have significant contacts with various legal professionals or agents, should such connections be needed for residents.
o Job searches and presentation of qualifications: Certain members of our Board and their respective networks have run businesses and are responsible for hiring large numbers of employees. We intend to offer our experience for residents in support of current or future career opportunities. We also provide introductions to potential employers, help with resume drafting, and development of presentation and interview skills.
o Alumni network: Through our own website or other social media platforms, we intend to establish a private Homestretch Foundation alumni network so our current residents, former residents, Board members and significant supporters can connect and interact. We intend our network to be a continued “safe space” for our athletes to ask questions, seek information and establish/maintain connections which will aid in the pursuit of their athletic or future career.
Who We Help
We offer our programs primarily for female pro/elite cyclists and triathletes, but we also accept applications from all female endurance athletes (please see our Athlete Application page for more information). While the public often associates “Professional Athletes” with millionaire status, we recognize that many female professional endurance athletes earn less than minimum wage, and may be targets of gender or other discrimination. We prioritize our acceptance of athletes to those who generally earn less than $25,000, and/or struggle with challenging personal or socioeconomic circumstance.
How It Works
Professional or elite athletes may apply for consideration, and upon acceptance, will be offered an opportunity to stay at our residence, located in Tucson, Arizona, between one to six months, during the period from December through May. Individuals selected for residence must fund their own travel expenses to get to us in Arizona.
In return for their residency, each athlete is expected to give back by pledging two hours of volunteer work per week, with a charity/organization or business affiliated with The Homestretch Foundation, or other reasonable volunteer opportunities of their choosing.
Funding for our resident-athlete programs comes from donations (from individuals as well as corporate entities or sponsors), and proceeds received from special events we may offer, or are affiliated with, such as cycling camps where profits earned may be donated in support of our programs.
Kathryn Bertine, Board Chair and CEO. Kathryn Bertine founded the Homestretch Foundation in 2016. Kathryn is an athlete, activist, writer and documentary filmmaker. Prior to her retirement from professional cycling in 2016 as a member of the Cylance Pro Cycling UCI World Tour team, she was a professional triathlete and professional figure skater. She is also the author of three published books, and was formerly a columnist and senior editor for ESPN. Kathryn is also the writer, producer and director of a documentary film, Half the Road, which offers insights respecting the challenges, significant pay and prize money disparities and the more limited racing opportunities offered for female professional cyclists. She is also one of the founders of Le Tour Entier, a non-profit organization responsible for the establishment of La Course, a race for female professional cyclists that coincides with the conclusion of the annual Tour de France cycling race. Kathryn currently serves on the Board of Compassion Champs, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal welfare and rights, and has served on the Board of the Women’s Cycling Association. She also co-founded the organization RVA Hosts, which offered host housing to qualified athletes from under-funded nations during the 2015 UCI World Cycling Championships held in Richmond, VA. Kathryn is a graduate of Colgate University, and has a Masters Degree from the University of Arizona. You can learn more about Kathryn on her personal website KathrynBertine.com
Thomas Bailey, Board Member, CFO and Treasurer. Tom has extensive experience in business and finance, and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Chief Financial Officer of AgaMatrix Holdings LLC, a developer and manufacturer of technologies for diabetes care. Prior to joining AgaMatrix, Tom served as President and CEO of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., a developer and manufacturer of pharmaceutical technologies and medical products in the fields of heart disease, cancer and surgery. Prior to Angiotech, Tom worked in investment banking and private equity in the life sciences practice group at Credit Suisse First Boston and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. He also currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for IZI Medical Products. Tom provided the initial donation and facilities to support the founding of Homestretch Foundation. He is a graduate of Harvard University, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Amber Pierce, Board Member, Secretary. Amber is a professional cyclist, founder of the non-profit Network for Advancing Athletes, a non-profit organization that serves to mentor young athletes as they navigate their way through the challenges of life as a professional, in cycling and other sports where opportunities for compensation are more limited. Amber has also has been a researcher in the life sciences. A lifelong athlete, she got her start as a swimmer, setting multiple state and national records throughout high school, eventually earning a scholarship to Stanford University. Equally dedicated to academics, she graduated high school valedictorian, and was selected as a President’s Scholar at Stanford, where she earned a B.A. and M.Sc. When a shoulder injury ended her swimming career, Amber found cycling. In her first season racing on the road, she won two collegiate national titles for Stanford, upgraded from a Category 4 to Category 1 in less than 6 months, and signed her first professional contract. She has now been competing at the professional level for 10 years and has raced all over the world, earning more than 50 wins and a reputation as one of the most respected riders in professional cycling. Amber also serves as an advocate for active transportation with Bike Mansfield (Connecticut), and supports local youth cycling programs with the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program.
Dotsie Bausch, Board Member. Dotsie is a former professional cyclist and U.S. Olympian; with a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is also an advocate for animal rights and is the founder of the non-profit Compassion Champs. Dotsie spent 10 years as a member of the U.S. National Road Cycling Team, tried track cycling for the first time in 2007 and surprised by winning two national titles on the track that same year. In 2012, she realized her dream of becoming an Olympian by competing on the track at the London Games, where she won a silver medal in the team pursuit, a first for the United States. Dotsie’s journey to the Olympic Games is shared in the documentary film "Personal Gold." The film premiered in 2015 at international film festivals worldwide, and won numerous awards. While Dotsie has scored victories on the bike, perhaps her greatest victory came from resurrecting her own life from the depths of severe eating disorders, which threatened to take her life 20 years ago after a promising modeling career in New York City. It was during her recovery that she discovered her passion for cycling. Dotsie makes herself available to support women and men around the world in their battle to return to healthy eating and living habits through her free mentorship program. In 2012, Dotsie was named the National Ambassador for NEDA (The National Eating Disorders Association). Additionally, she serves as a mentor for young women eyeing the professional ranks through the Network for Advancing Athletes, and is an executive board member for the Women's Cycling Association. Dotsie is also a vocal advocate for animal rights, and recently founded the non-profit Compassion Champs, an organization dedicated to animal welfare and rights. In addition to her advocacy in cycling, eating disorders and animal rights, Dotsie, with her husband Kirk, co-owns Bausch Haus Inc., a consultancy focused on sports technology market development, sales forecasting, data mining and analysis, and creating efficient growth solutions. Dotsie earned a degree in Journalism and Philosophy from Villanova University.
Luke O’Neill, Board Member. Luke has extensive experience in leading and working with non-profit organizations. His work in leadership education and team building began when he joined Outward Bound in 1990 as a wilderness educator and development professional. He continues to serve as a program manager with Outward Bound Professional, designing customized leadership programs for a wide range or corporate clients and non-profit service organizations. In addition, he continues to lead sea and mountain based courses in the U.S. and Central America. In recent years, Luke has also led Outward Bound Peacebuilding programs in Croatia, Cyprus, Slovakia, and Israel for groups comprised of Israeli and Palestinian leaders. In 1996, Luke founded Shackleton Schools, Inc., a Boston-based residential high school with a challenging, expedition-based curriculum with roots in the philosophies and methodologies of Outward Bound. Following his ten years as CEO of Shackleton Schools, Luke served as the Vice President for the Western U.S. Operations for Meritas LLC, an international, for-profit educational venture, and as President of the Henderson International School, serving 1,000 students on 3 campuses. Luke began his career practicing corporate law at Whitman, Ransom, Breed & Morgan in Greenwich, Connecticut during which time he also performed pro bono legal work for indigent juvenile court defendants. Luke holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University.
The Homestretch Foundation residence is located on the Northeast side of Tucson, Arizona. With few traffic lights, the most scenic cycling routes are just outside our front door: Saguaro National Monument, Colossal Cave, Redington Pass and the famous 26-mile, 9000ft paved climb of Mt. Lemmon. Just nine miles from downtown Tucson and 20 miles from Tucson International Airport, we’re removed from the rush of the city, but an easy commute to everything essential. We're within walking distance of a shopping center with all the necessities including groceries, pharmacy, restaurants, urgent care, beauty salons and, of course, all cyclists’ favorite hangout and greatest need: Le Buzz coffee shop. While we don't post photos of the home for the privacy of our resident athletes, the Homestretch appears to feel like, well, home.