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Zach Johnson Foundation helps put kids on course for success

August 28, 2018

By Justin Farrell, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Zach Johnson’s 8th annual Zach Johnson Foundation Classic Pro-Am and Gala was held on Monday, July 9, 2018 at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly 5,000 fans watched the 19 professional golfers and 11 celebrities that participated in the annual event that raised a record $1.3 million this year for the Zach Johnson Foundation.

“Humbled beyond words,” said Johnson when asked about his 2018 charity event during his press conference at the John Deere Classic. “I am just completely beside myself as to what transpired. It's for the kids. It's for the families that should have any and all opportunity that I was given as a kid.”

The money raised will benefit the Kids on Course program that the Zach Johnson Foundation developed and administers in coordination with the Cedar Rapids Community School District to help provide students with confidence to realize their academic and individual potential by providing creative and inventive opportunities that connect students and families to community and school.

“The inaugural year for the ZJF Classic and the Kids on Course program was in 2011,” said Zach Johnson Foundation Executive Director Tracey Myers. “That year, we were serving 60 students from two local elementary schools and raised about $350,000. Fast forward to 2018 and we raised more than $1.3 million and are now serving more than 1,200 students in Cedar Rapids area schools. Our first class of students are freshmen in high school this year. What that shows me, is that people believe in this. They believe in these kids and the momentum has continued to grow over the last eight years.”

Zach and his wife, Kim, started their Foundation and the Kids on Course program because they wanted every child to have the same opportunities, receive a great education and be able to play any sport or play any instrument.

Kids on Course provides year-round learning for students, summer school enrichment and scholarships. More than 70% of the kids enrolled in the program are at poverty level. Kids on Course encourages kids to stay in school because it increases their chances of finding jobs.

According to the Kids on Course website (, kids who are behind in 4th grade in reading are four times more likely to drop out of high school and 13 times more likely to not graduate from high school on time. Kids who drop out of high school are ineligible for 90% of jobs in America. They are also twice as likely to abuse drugs, five times more likely to be involved in gangs and five times more likely to go to prison. Students attending the Kids on Course year-round program are six times more likely to be on grade level in reading compared to peers not in the program.

It is remarkable that Zach Johnson and the Kids on Course program can raise so much money in a small market like Cedar Rapids. It shows how much people care in the community, and how hard Zach and his wife have worked.

“Zach is incredibly well-respected in this community and people want to help because they want to support him and his mission here in Cedar Rapids.” added Myers. “We have a program that is really working. We have real, third-party generated and reviewed data that proves Kids on Course is having a long-term, positive impact on these students’ futures. We are changing their trajectory in life. People may initially become involved because they want to play golf, or they want to attend the gala, but they stay because their money is being utilized in the best possible way—to help kids dream big and have a brighter future.”

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