USGA Grant Supports Academic, Athletic & Professional Enrichment for Underserved Youth

October 3, 2023 | Press Release

Program Update January 1, 2024: The Game Changers Immersion Program is now called the Pathfinder Immersion Program.

First Tee – Greater Charleston is receiving a $7,500 IDEA grant from the United States Golf Association. Funds will support academic, athletic, and professional enrichment opportunities for local youth in underserved communities through First Tee’s Game Changers Immersion Program—a program that has garnered USGA support since its inception in 2021.

The USGA awards IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) grants to organizations that are expanding access to the game of golf and its inherent social emotional benefits.

Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA says, “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.”

Thanks to continued USGA funding and generous community support, First Tee – Greater Charleston is currently serving students grade 6-8 on a year-round basis. Participants meet with coaches and mentors Monday through Friday during the summer and on Saturdays throughout the school year for golf instruction and STEAM activities. All activities, transportation, snacks, meals, and equipment are provided at no cost to participating families.

The program is still very young, but First Tee is excited to share early trends and benefits. According to recent survey data (summer 2023), 100% of Immersion Program parents report that their child is more confident and more likely to exercise good judgment after spending time with First Tee coaches and mentors. 83% of parents report that their child is better able to cope with challenges.

“Access is important, but our primary objective isn’t access to the game. We want to provide children with access to game-changing learning opportunities. We want to help them build a toolbox for life. Confidence and coping skills are significant short-term outcomes, and we look forward to sharing more long-term program benefits as our Immersion Program matures,” says Bucky Dudley, Executive Director of First Tee – Greater Charleston.

The Game Changers Immersion Program accepts a new class of rising 6th graders each summer and is on track to serve more than 56 young people, grades 6-12, by 2027.

About First Tee – Greater Charleston

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 participants receive free programming thanks to generous community support.

Contact [email protected] to learn more about how to get involved.