PGA REACH: Improving lives through golf
The PGA of America is proud to announce the creation of PGA REACH -- “Beyond 18,” a new and unique initiative that endeavors to improve the lives of young people through the game of golf.
What is PGA REACH -- “Beyond 18”?
St. Louis and Bellerive Country Club are honored to be hosting the 74th 2013 Senior PGA Championship in May, 2013, and the 100th playing of the PGA Championship in 2018. In conjunction with these Championships, a community-wide initiative -- PGA REACH - has been created. Through this initiative the PGA of America, the Gateway PGA Foundation, and the St. Louis golfing community will combine their strengths and resources to effect meaningful change and improve lives in the St. Louis area through the game of golf. Our program will secure, support, and extend the REACH of local organizations that help keep kids in school so their health, wellness, and career prospects are improved now, and Beyond 18 years old.
Is PGA REACH just a St. Louis local initiative?
PGA REACH was created and developed here in St. Louis by a coalition of members from Bellerive Country Club, and the Board and leadership of the PGA Gateway Foundation. Since its founding here, the PGA of America has decided to adopt this program as a national program, and a similar PGA REACH program will be affiliated with each one of their future Championships throughout the country.
What are the Goals of PGA REACH?PGA REACH intends to measurably improve and advance opportunities for St. Louis area youth to succeed in life. Success will be measured through programs that have demonstrable outcomes to positively impact youth by:
A. Increasing classroom attendance
B. Lowering the high school dropout rate
C. Enhancing the long term health of young men and women through education, activities, and recreational programs
D. Improving the career options available to these youth
Do all these goals have a common focus?All of our plans, programs, and support are focused on “keeping kids in school.” That’s how we know we can make a difference in St. Louis.
How does PGA REACH intend to achieve these goals?
We have determined that we can have the most impact by partnering with existing organizations, in the form of funding and/or volunteer support, that have effective programs already in place to achieve these goals. PGA REACH will assist the following organizations and initiatives to expand their own “reach."
a. ABCToday!, an “early warning system” of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO), was designed to collect, track and respond to individual
student performance measured through Attendance, Behavior, and Classroom success in reading and math.
b. Urban K-Life (UKL), a Christian based organization operating in the inner city of St. Louis, has a proven track record of working with the St. Louis Public Schools to improve the academic performance and dramatically lower the dropout rate of the participants in their programs.
c. Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis (BGCGSL) is a long established facility offering programs whose mission is to inspire and enable youth to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
d. Site investigation is proceeding whereby a multi-acre golf site, either a driving range/fitness facility, or a multiple hole golf course, or both can be secured and developed. Aspects of all three of the UKL, BGCGSL, and BBBSEMO programs include a fitness and wellness element that will be enhanced with this golf site.
How will PGA REACH raise the necessary funds to assist these partners?
Funding will come from multiple sources. On October 8, 2012, the National Car Rental/PGA REACH Pro-Am was held at Boone Valley Country Club. Over 80 golfers participated in this event, and along with the generous sponsorship of National Car Rental, $80,000 was raised to support the objectives of PGA REACH.
On Memorial Day, 2013, PGA REACH will host the “Play it Like the Pros” at Bellerive Country Club, staging a celebrity pro-am that will be played exactly like the Senior PGA Championship was played...same length, same tees, same conditions. 34 4-man teams are expected at this event and the objective is to raise over $200,000.
In an unprecedented and generous decision, Bellerive Country Club has informed PGA REACH that 10% of its proceeds from both the 2013 Senior PGA Championship, and the 2018 PGA Championship, will be donated to PGA REACH to assist with its programs.
In addition, the Gateway PGA Section will host events annually to raise money, and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to PGA REACH and its St. Louis partners.
Who receives and manages the contributions destined for PGA REACH, and what kind of governance oversight is provided?
All contributions for PGA REACH will be received and distributed by the Gateway PGA Foundation. Its governing board will oversee all funds. In addition, an Executive Steering Committee for PGA REACH has been created, consisting of 12 St. Louis business and civic leaders, including Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, President of the Gateway PGA Foundation.
Is the only form of support needed for PGA REACH monetary support?No. In addition to the monetary contributions, we will support our partners through volunteer assistance and with staff support from the Gateway PGA Section. For example, at Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, the activity based programs already being conducted there utilize both volunteer and Gateway PGA Section staff support. Many of our future planned initiatives will require extensive volunteer assistance.
Are the activities supported with each of the PGA REACH partners planned and managed on an informal basis?
No, the activities of our partners and support by PGA REACH are detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) mutually signed by both parties, after being approved by the governing boards of both parties.
Can you give us some further information about what is being planned with the partners you support?Sure. Our initiative at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri includes funding for a staff position to help implement a program called ABCToday. That program allows for early intervention with Little Brothers and Little Sisters experiencing medical issues that prevent them from fully attending school. Through coordination and medical intervention, the program will improve Attendance, Behavior, and Classroom success measured through progress in reading and math.
At the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, our focus is on supporting PGA Sports Academy activities, designed to provide physical and emotional development utilizing golf related activities. Those activities can be done both indoors and outdoors, and are led by a PGA of America golf professional and a Gateway PGA Section staff member.
The needs of Urban K-Life’s participants can be best addressed by adding staff members to extend the relationship model with high school aged youth to additional participants. Through support of that, we will be able to supplement after school activities. With the benefits of relationships and activities, together we will measurably improve the graduation rate.
Because many of the participants in these initiatives attend the St. Louis Public Schools, we are developing programs in partnership with those schools, and with the assistance of our partners.
Is all this in the future, or do you have activities and support underway now?Much has already been accomplished.
Two full sessions of the PGA Sports Academy programs have already been completed at BGCGSL. Last October, and in February/March of this year, sessions were run on each Tuesday and Thursday, with approximately 20 youth participating in each. The sessions were well received and enthusiasm is high. We recently hosted a “fun day” that was open to the entire club, and had 15 new participants come to that event.
At BBBSEMO, development of the tracking system mentioned above is the focus of activities, as is the designing of a trial and deployment for ABCToday on a larger scale basis, with the intent to deploy throughout an entire school and an entire school system.
Urban K-Life has moved forward, with our help, to hire an additional relationship manager. That has enabled 30 more youth to be a part of the Urban K-Life relationship model, providing new motivation, role models, and life skills. In addition, a Job Training and Education program has been designed for deployment at the UKL facility, and a very successful parent conference has been conducted to explain the program. On March 6, nineteen students and their parents attended a meeting and signed “contracts” to start and complete the education program.
Activities will include specific classes focused on educational skills, job skills, and golf skills, and participating students will be eligible to accept a paid summer internship position upon completion. Classes will be conducted on Tuesdays throughout April. They will also have the opportunity to participate on a Club Golf Team through UKL.
Already in progress with the St. Louis Public Schools, a pilot Pros in the School program at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy just completed, and it served to introduce students to the sport of golf and the advantages of participating in the Job Training and Education program. Classes were conducted on Monday and Wednesday mornings.
Do you contemplate any further activities beyond those described above?Since the inception of PGA REACH in St. Louis, several other possible avenues for “keeping kids in school” have opened to us, and right now we are limited only by our current resources. The possibilities are exciting, and we are committed to finding a way to implement them.
Right now no SLPS secondary schools have golf teams, or the related after school activities and character development attributes that go with such activities. PGA REACH has been asked to consider finding volunteers, equipment, and related support so that golf teams can be initiated at each of the SLPS secondary schools. Volunteer interest has been superb, and we are carefully planning how to implement this initiative in a productive and successful way, working with the athletic staff of the SLPS.
In our discussions with each of our partners, a common theme emerged, that being the dire need for a physical site where outdoor and after-school activities can be conducted on an ongoing and regular basis. Concurrent with that need, the possibility arose of a potential site near the locations of our partners, albeit a possibility that will take very significant planning, development, and monetary support. Much has already been accomplished relative to the possible configuration and utilization of the site, and fundraising talks are underway to find assistance for proceeding with this initiative. Considerable volunteer help has already been harnessed, and daily activities are proceeding to make this a reality.
How can I become involved if I’d like to help with PGA REACH and its initiatives?
As indicated, we are in need of both monetary contributions, awareness of the needs, and volunteer support. Contributions can be made to PGA REACH, in care of the Gateway PGA Foundation. If you’d like to discuss volunteering, we’d be pleased to visit with you, and you can call the Gateway PGA Section at 636-532-3355 to let us know of your interest. You can also go to www.gatewaypga.org and click through to the PGA REACH link to learn more. We’d welcome your help.
Can you summarize what is really important?Yes. Keeping kids in school! That is really important. And we all can help.