The First Tee to launch $100 million campaign

Rafiq Griffin, center, of First Tee San Francisco, shakes hands with Jim Thorpe during the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open.

The First Tee is preparing a $100 million fund-raising campaign to expand delivery of its education programs to an additional 10 million youths.

The initiative plans to recruit 100 “trustees,” tapping each to donate $1 million to The First Tee, according to internal documents obtained by Golfweek. Executives of the PGA Tour and the youth organization formally announced the fund-raising effort on July 7.

It’s a major development for The First Tee, which has evolved from a group intent on just increasing junior golf participation into one that now uses the sport as a vehicle to address the many challenges facing American children, ranging from obesity to dismal high-school dropout rates.

Aside from introducing youngsters to the game, The First Tee steadfastly has taught character-building and life-skills programs. Most recently, it introduced its “Nine Healthy Habits” promoting physical, emotional and social well being.

During the past 14 years, more than 4.7 million children have participated in The First Tee’s programs offered at golf facilities, schools and U.S. military installations, according to the organization. The First Tee wants to raise more money to serve an additional 10 million young people over the next several years.

To court potential benefactors, “The First Tee Campaign for 10 Million Lives” has assembled an incentive package that includes invitations to the following:

• Oct. 3-4: An outing at a Dallas golf course where president George W. Bush, The First Tee’s honorary chair, will be in attendance.

• May 20-21, 2012: Golf at Augusta National. A special dinner will feature past Masters champions.

• Oct. 7-8, 2012: Pro-am at Pebble Beach with amateurs pairing with a PGA Tour, Champions Tour or LPGA player.

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