The mission of The First Tee of Denver is to educate and inspire youth academically, socially, and physically through the game of golf. While it is a major goal of The First Tee of Denver to introduce inner city and disadvantaged youth to practice and play opportunities in golf, we see a chance to use the unique challenges of the game to work with and through schools to assist in the academic development of the boys and girls in our program. The city of Denver possesses golf facilities throughout the city that, historically, have not been utilized to their full potential by juniors, particularly in areas of the city that are primarily populated by low-income minority families.
In 2001, Denver’s Junior Golf program began working with inner-city schools to build relationships with students and increase their interest in golf. At the same time, Denver schools were facing a state governmental directive to become more accountable in teaching basic academic concepts to their students, particularly in math and reading. As it turned out, the schools that we had targeted were rated unsatisfactory based on CSAP test scores. Through our “Read n’ Swing” and “Club building” programs school administrators reported substantial improvement in reading and math scores.
The enthusiasm schools have for our programming is contagious. Currently, we have five schools on our waitlist. We have developed relationships with students, and 87% of them have shown significant growth. The First Tee of Denver and Columbine Elementary recently received recognition from the US Education Department for the “Extend-a-day programming” for our innovative public private partnership.
We believe that these kids need more than another after school program. They need to see continuing ongoing support from familiar mentors year after year. Having people who care, and a place they can belong to, gives kids the permission to be responsible. The youth that we are making connections with, stay at the golf course spending most of their free time practicing, making friends, and staying out of trouble. We are confident that we will see the children in our program become valuable contributing members of our community.
Our Board Members