The First Tee Of South Central Wisconsin
About The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin
The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin’s mission is impact the lives of young people and their families by providing educational programs for youth that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Established in 1997, The First Tee currently has 180 chapters around the world, with a goal of reaching 10,000,000 youth by 2017. The local chapter currently serves over 1,800 youth in registered programs, and over 15,000 youth in outreach programs across south central Wisconsin. Programs are held year-round at 13 green grass facilities, two after school Learning Centers, and 30 schools, providing golf and life skills education and academic programs during the summer and after school hours. The chapter boasts over 15 partnerships with other youth service agencies like The Boys & Girls Club, providing programming and resources to those in greatest need. Nearly half of the chapter’s participants receive financial assistance. Two graduates of the chapter have received full-ride scholarships to UW-Madison through caddying at area clubs by enrolling in the Evans Scholars program. Several have also benefitted from attending The First Tee leadership academies around the country.
The chapter believes in fostering a community where all kids, regardless of socio- economic background, are given the opportunity to dream and work for a better future. The programs empower youth and propel them towards high school graduation, post- secondary education, mentoring opportunities, internships, and employment, by providing a myriad of activity-based and academic programming options, national educational academies, strong mentor relationships, life-skills education, and equipped golf facilities and classrooms that challenge participants to discover and develop their hidden talents and potential. The programs are available to everyone. No child will be turned away for an inability to pay the fees. The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin uses the federal poverty guidelines to provide financial support to all participants based on family income.
Chapter’s Growth and Direction
Back in 2013, when the chapter’s Advisory Council first met with their Champions4Kids ambassadors – Jerry Kelly, Andy North, Sherri Steinhauer, and Steve Stricker – they all believed it was important to not only provide quality and quantity, but also create a permanent home for the chapter to run year-round and after school programming.
Today, there are currently two after school Learning Center programs in Madison serving over 200 youth annually during after school hours, providing a comprehensive reading and academic curricula in addition to the golf and life skills experience. The focus on quality youth outcomes have resulted in improved reading and math levels of Learning Center participants, parent and teacher testimonials reporting greater student engagement, resiliency, and responsibility, employment opportunities for participants, and, the first participant receiving a full ride to college on an Evans Scholarship back in 2015. The combination of summer golf and life skill programming along with the year- round Learning Center programs have enabled The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin to be recognized in the community as a strong youth development solution for all youth.
The First Tee and American Family Insurance Partnership
In 2016, The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin and the American Family Insurance Championship formed what the chapter hopes to be an enduring partnership well into the future. The chapter was a benefactor of the tournament charitable proceeds, and helped to make the inaugural event a success by providing The First Tee volunteers to operate the driving range, hosting the youth day activities, and supporting the tournament through a ticket sponsorship.
In 2017, the chapter is building on the inaugural tournament with an increased presence on the practice facilities. The First Tee volunteers will not only operate the driving range, but also the practice putting greens as well. The chapter is also directing and co- sponsoring the Kids ZONE with Culvers, another local company committed to youth development. The chapter will again host the youth skills challenge on Tuesday June 20th at University Ridge, increasing participation from local junior golf programs from 42 to over 100. The First Tee will also host a trick shot show with trick shot artist Dennis Walters for youth on Sunday afternoon of the tournament.
“The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation is honored to support the work of The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin,” said Nate Pokrass, Foundation Director. “Our foundation’s mission is to help develop strong families and healthy kids, and this aligns with the goals of The First Tee organization and the positive impact their programs have on our communities.”
“We are extremely humbled by the support of the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation,” said Joe Loehnis, The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin’s Executive Director. “Support from the Foundation is instrumental in enabling us to plan, develop, and execute programming directed at reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps in south central Wisconsin. We are committed to serving all kids, and we are proud to be a partner with such a well-respected and impactful foundation.”
There are several ways to get involved with The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin. Please go to their website to learn about summer mentoring opportunities, Champions Club memberships, and 2017 events. You can also call Joe Loehnis, Executive Director, with any questions. (920)-858-6292.