In the April of 2021, First Tee – West Michigan launched programs in Kalamazoo at Red Arrow GC, Eastern Hills GC, and Milham Park GC thanks to the generosity of Dean Marks, PGA and the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association. Soon, Kalamazoo County Club joined as a program location as well. Thanks to an instrumental partnership with the Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association and a dynamic Kalamazoo Advisory Board, Kalamazoo participation was more than double than First Tee’s goal in year 1!
Historical Benchmark: Communities in their First Full Year of First Tee Programs:
Grand Rapids: 152 kids and teens (in 2012)
Muskegon: 78 kids and teens (in 2013)
Holland: 127 kids and teens (in 2018)
In Kalamazoo: 357 kids and teens (in 2021)
Meeting Kalamazoo Demand
The demand from parents and partnerships in our first year was everything our staff and Kalamazoo Area Director Matthew Gifford could handle. “Coaching 5 nights a week was a positive because it meant I built relationships with nearly every Kalamazoo kid and parent in First Tee,” said Gifford. “We know, though, to make a deeper impact on more kids and teens, we need more help!”
First Tee – West Michigan hopes to hire a full-time seasonal Program Coordinator to help ensure that every experience is a fantastic one, and kids and teens are growing through the program. This individual would be responsible for coaching 4-5 sessions per week, April – October, in addition to fostering and developing relationships with new partnerships with groups like the Boys & Girls Club and Kalamazoo Public Schools.
First Tee has already developed partnerships in Kalamazoo with the Kalamazoo Black Male Alliance, Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation, Peace House, and Youth for Christ to ensure their kids and teens get an opportunity to explore First Tee.
The new Program Coordinator would join a group of amazing first-year Kalamazoo Coaches!
With this expansion, Kalamazoo’s expenses will increase from $85,000 to an anticipated $145,000 in 2022. Your help is critical to ensure that every kids and teen in Kalamazoo who wants to learn through First Tee has the opportunity! By reaching $70,000 raised by year-end, First Tee would maximize a matching grant from Charles Schwab, and ensure that a Program Coordinator role can be hired this upcoming March for our kids in Kalamazoo!
PS. Can’t give at year-end, but love to play golf? Another way to support in 2022 is join our Golf Marathon Fundraiser. Join the 18 marathoners and see how many holes you can play this upcoming spring at Eastern Hills or Kalamazoo Country Club! Opportunities to play in the marathon are also available in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland.