First Tee of Central Floriday received a $30,000 gift as part of the 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative. DeVos family member Dick DeVos was on hand to present the check.

First Tee – Central Florida to Drive Outreach Program Growth as DeVos Family Chips in with Donation

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

ORLANDO – Golf is a game that builds character, instills positive values, promotes healthy choices, and is based in tradition.

Local nonprofit First Tee – Central Florida, has established its own traditions, prioritizing these aspects of the game to teach essential life skills – including grit, managing emotions, resolving conflicts, and setting and achieving goals – while inspiring youth to use these characteristics far beyond golf.

The organization delivers programs in traditional golf settings, including golf courses and driving ranges, as well as in schools and other community-based youth organizations – focusing its impact on creating accessibility for children ages 7 to 18.

Since inception, First Tee has served more than 100,000 youth in Seminole, Orange, Osceola, and Lake counties. Last year alone, nearly 700 youth participated in First Tee’s core program. This expansive reach has enabled the organization to foster economic, gender, and racial diversity throughout its players and coaches. Participants are taught inherent life lessons from a variety of backgrounds, which has proven crucial to developing skills such as interpersonal communication, self-management, goal setting, and resiliency – all while also learning the game.

“The mission is to help kids (learn and establish) character development, life skills, healthy habits, and we do that through the game of golf,” said First Tee – Central Florida Executive Director Scott Spragg. “So, we extract the qualities that are inherent in the game, and we bring that out and work with (children) on the golf course and then, we turn that into life. We take those same values and bring them to their homes, their schools, and their community.”

First Tee connects with local youth in three primary ways. They have established golf course programs at 17 locations throughout the area; developed elementary and middle school programs in over 135 schools throughout Central Florida to assist with curriculum and offer scholarships; and have partnered with a wide range of youth centers, including the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs, to better advance their mission.

Receiving a $30,000 grant from the DeVos Family Foundation, as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, will enable First Tee to further extend its community outreach programs to assist even more children along the way. Specifically, the gift will help with transportation and programming throughout the Parramore and West Lakes neighborhoods.

“To see such a nationally recognized family and foundation invest in our nonprofit is really meaningful to us,” said First Tee – Central Florida Program Director Julie Steinbauer Leventhal. “The money is going to go an incredibly long way toward (impacting) youth in Central Florida.”

One of those children is Alanah, who finds great value beyond the athletic component, but in the social aspects of the program and the lessons taught by First Tee.

“(I’ve learned) how to stick through something even when it’s hard,” she explained. “Especially when you’re learning something – or anything really – just how to persevere.”

As an organization, this is exactly what First Tee has done, becoming the ninth grant announced as part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative. Others include the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, the New Image Youth Center, Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Dress for Success Greater Orlando, ELEVATE Orlando, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, and Heart of Florida United Way.

As part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over an 18-month period as they aim to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.

“All in all, we’re eager to come alongside nonprofits doing impactful work – to be cheerleaders of these efforts and provide financial support as well as an opportunity to shine a light on the great things these nonprofits do on a daily basis,” said Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. “And it’s all to honor the great community we’re thankful to be in.”