Western Golf Association, First Tee — Greater Chicago Announce Partnership

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GLENVIEW, Ill. / CHICAGO, Ill. – The Western Golf Association (WGA) and First Tee — Greater Chicago, two of Chicago’s leading nonprofit organizations, have formed a partnership to broaden the scope and reach of their youth development and scholarship programs. The news was announced today during this week’s WGA-run BMW Championship, a PGA TOUR FedExCup Playoff event held at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois.

The partnership aims to deepen both organizations’ impact by providing First Tee — Greater Chicago’s diverse group of youth participants direct access to Western Golf Association’s youth caddie programs and college scholarship opportunities. Headquartered in Chicago’s north suburbs, the WGA hosts championships for professionals and amateur golfers, promotes the use of youth caddies, and oversees the acclaimed Evans Scholars Foundation, which sends deserving caddies to college on full tuition and housing scholarships. Currently, 1,045 students are enrolled at 19 universities nationwide as Evans Scholars.

While maintaining independent boards and staff, the organizations will share resources and collectively build out long-term programmatic supports needed to achieve meaningful impact in the greater Chicago community.

“We could not be more excited to announce our new partnership with First Tee — Greater Chicago,” said John Kaczkowski, President and CEO of the Western Golf Association. “Both organizations have been committed to supporting and developing youth and educational efforts through the game of golf. Together, we’ll be better positioned to further advance our joint mission of inviting more young people in the Chicago area to come learn the game of golf – and probably a few new things about themselves, too.”

First Tee — Greater Chicago is part of a network of 150 First Tee domestic and international chapters. Since 2000, First Tee — Greater Chicago has been serving tens of thousands of area youth annually through its on-course, in-school, and after-school programming. Based in Chicago, the organization aims to impact the lives of young people aged seven to 18 from all backgrounds by providing experiences that build character to empower kids through a lifetime of new challenges and continuous personal growth.

“When there are opportunities to combine forces for good – like in this case – there is little doubt the young people and the community benefit,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of First Tee. “We are focused on the future and how we can continue to thoughtfully create opportunities to enrich our impact in these communities. We are thankful for this new strategic partnership, and trust that it will bring together two quality organizations to make an even better experience for Chicago-area youth.”

“This partnership is about creating opportunity, especially for the youth we reach who are coming from underrepresented communities,” said Lea Jesse, Chief Executive Officer of First Tee — Greater Chicago. “It has been a tough year for Chicago, and we want to help more kids to build up their inner-strength, self-confidence, and resilience. This partnership with the Western Golf Association will have a lasting impact for our community, and specifically for the young people who will grow and translate their learnings into meaningful work experience and college scholarship opportunities as they transition into young adulthood.”

A working group comprised of leaders from both organizations will be established to develop goals and benchmarks and build out the long-term measures of success.

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