USGA IDEA Grant is Helping First Tee – Greater Charleston Build Game Changers

October 19, 2022 | Press Release

In recognition of First Tee’s 25th anniversary, The United States Golf Association has awarded IDEA grants to 25 of the 150+ First Tee chapters across America, including First Tee – Greater Charleston. 

The IDEA Grant delivers direct funding to community-based programs that break down barriers to participation in golf and expand access to First Tee character-building curriculum. This year, 25 chapters were awarded funds to provide transportation, hire diverse coaches, train volunteers and build programs in diverse communities. First Tee – Greater Charleston received a $10,000 IDEA grant to expand its Game Changers Immersion Program, a needs-based golf and STEAM initiative that launched in 2021. 

“This year’s IDEA grants are the latest milestone that reflect significant progress made to date in partnership with First Tee,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “The best way to introduce youth to the game is by meeting them where they are in their communities, and we are going to continue to drive resources toward the local level to ensure a more accessible and inclusive game for generations to come.” 

This is First Tee – Greater Charleston’s second year receiving the USGA IDEA Grant. The local 501(c)(3) received $10,000 in 2021 as seed money for the Game Changers Immersion Program. That investment, along with generous community support, sponsored eight rising 6th graders who now participate in year-round programming–a full-day camp Monday-Friday each summer and continued golf/enrichment on Saturdays throughout the school year. 

With continued community and USGA support, First Tee – Greater Charleston added eight new rising 6th graders in summer 2022 and hired a full-time staff member, Coach Lerone Johnson, to lead Game Changers and spearhead additional DEI efforts. 

Bucky Dudley, Executive Director of First Tee – Greater Charleston says, “The Game Changers program seamlessly incorporates STEAM enrichment activities, field trips, free meals, transportation, and mentoring to the foundation of our sport-based character education program. The positive response from families is a testament to the impact this program is making in the lives of young people in our community.“ 

Established in 2008, First Tee – Greater Charleston serves young people, ages 5-18, from all walks of life. In addition to the Game Changers Immersion Program, The chapter offers on-course, in-school, and community programs to teach life skills using the game of golf and its inherent values to more than 17,000 children each year in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. 97% of the families participating in FTGC programs do so through full scholarships graciously supported by local individuals and businesses. FTGC has also partnered with local courses to make free rounds of golf available to all Charleston Area youth, regardless of program enrollment.

Email [email protected] to learn more about ways to get involved.