Mission: to educate students in a public-private partnership and improve their academic performance, self-esteem and character using the golf course as a living classroom.
About the Foundation
The Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 organization created to help at-risk youth achieve academic, social, and economic success by remaining engaged in their education and acquiring the practical skills necessary to excel. The Foundation, founded in 1979, operates all the facets of the Chi Chi Rodriguez programs in order to meet its mission.
A main tenet of the Foundation is the Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy, a Public Private Partnership School that serves fourth- through eighth-grade students who are not achieving at their grade level, have low self-esteem, or have difficulty adjusting to their academic environment. Programs at the Academy, such as the after school and community service, are also run by the Foundation.
The Foundation also operates The Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club and Sports Complex located on the Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy campus in Clearwater, Florida. All proceeds from the The Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club and Sports Complex support the Academy and provide living classroom experiences for the students.
History of the Foundation
Bill Hayes, a teacher, golfer, and part-time detention officer, invited professional golfer Juan “Chi Chi” Rodriguez to a juvenile detention center in Florida to give a golf clinic for the detained youngsters. Rodriguez and Hayes agreed there had to be a better way to help these adolescents succeed. The Hayes-Rodriguez team enlisted Bob James, founder of Raymond James Financial, Inc., and the three of them embarked on the journey of building the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation. The first activity of the new Foundation was an after school program, started with just 17 youngsters.
The Foundation found a home for its after school program at the Glen Oaks par-three golf course near downtown Clearwater.
The Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club opened up in Clearwater to provide the community’s youth with additional access to the after school programs developed at the Glen Oaks facility.
The Foundation developed a Public Private Partnership School with the Pinellas County School System at the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club. The school started out serving fifth-grade students who were not achieving at their grade level, had low self-esteem, or were having difficulty adjusting to their academic environment.
The Foundation’s programs expanded to include the Clearwater chapter of the The First Tee, created to promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
The First Tee of Clearwater’s program expanded to serve over 800 participants. During that time the Public Private Partnership School grew into what became the Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy, at which point the Academy expanded to serve fourth through eighth graders.
The Foundation receives federal grant funding to add the Big Brothers Big Sisters Sisters program into its after school program.
The Academy assumed management of the 30-acre driving range across the street from the Academy and renamed it the Chi Chi Rodriguez Sports Complex. Additionally, the Foundation added the Boys and Girls Club of America into its programming, spurring a growth in the after school program.