Johnson Answers Questions about Kids on Course
May 26, 2011
Zach Johnson, the namesake of the Zach Johnson Foundation, is a seven-time PGA TOUR winner, including taking the green jacket at the 2007 Masters. Johnson, who makes his home in Sea Island, Ga., still retains close ties to his home state of Iowa and has always said his most important roles are as husband, father and philanthropist. Johnson took some time to answer questions about his foundation’s new initiative, Kids on Course.
What exactly is Kids on Course? Describe the programs offered at the schools.
Kids on Course is an evolving program intended to give all kids an equal chance at success regardless of their socio-economic situation. Since Dr. Ruth White started earlier this month, she’s already started visiting with the two schools and learning about their cultures. The next step is listening some more—to parents, students, neighbors and educators. Then she’ll be hiring site coordinators for each school who will work full time within the building, carrying out the day-to-day elements of Kids on Course.
So what will those elements entail?
Like I said, it’s in development. We know where our focus will be, engaging parents and guardians in the education process and engaging kids outside of school time. Schools are already jam-packed with learning from bell to bell, so we want to look at how we can maximize those extra hours in the day when kids are still hungry for knowledge and experience but their parents are often still at work. And parents are key. We know that moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and godparents are a lifeline to a child’s success. Kids on Course isn’t just a program for kids, it’s an opportunity for the whole family to be partners and advocates for students. If a child wants to learn how to swim, and has a challenging spelling quiz on Friday, we want to provide the support necessary through Kids on Course for that child to master both. We’ve seen it happen in communities, and we know it will be successful in Cedar Rapids.
Why these two schools?
It wasn’t an easy choice. But we wanted to go where we could have the most impact on the most children. So we looked at some data and pinpointed schools that had great opportunity—families who wanted the best for their kids and students who could use more support to reach their potential. We also didn’t want to interrupt schools that already had programs that were up and running. In order to evaluate how successful we are, we wanted somewhat of a blank slate, and that’s how we came to Harrison and Van Buren Elementary schools.
What are your goals?
We want to see kids and families succeed. We know there are lots of ways to measure such success, but we really are going to zero in on these three: improved attendance rates, higher academic achievement and greater connections between home and school. There are lots of proven ways to make those three things happen, but we want it to fit the individual school. So we’ve already been doing a lot of listening and collaborating on what will make it happen at these schools, which will likely look different at each.
From where did the idea for this program come?
Kim and I tasked several board members with going out to the community to see if there wasn’t some significant and unmet need that was preventing children from being successful. Our desire is to make a real and sustainable difference in children. Numerous conversations were had with school district administrators and teachers and public-service organizations. Somewhat to our surprise, virtually all we talked to had this common theme of putting all children on level footing in terms of life’s experiences outside of school and the engagement of their parent or guardian. All who we talked to said that if given a white sheet of paper, and if they could design a program that would make the most difference in the lives of the children they serve, what would the program be? That program is Kids on Course.
- Principal Charity Classic's “FORE Our Kids” named 2013 Champions Tour Charity of the Year 12/12/2013
- Brian Gay Invitational raises more than $410,000 to benefit Florida Hospital for Children 12/11/2013
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship announces record-setting charitable donation 12/10/2013
- Words with Friends competition leads to $10,000 First Tee donation 12/09/2013
- Darlene Riggs named 2013 PGA TOUR Volunteer of the Year for commitment to THE PLAYERS Championship 12/06/2013
- Memory Matters named PGA TOUR Charity of the Year 12/06/2013
- Kathy Evans named 2013 Champions Tour Volunteer of the Year 12/06/2013
- PHOTOS: Kevin Chappell visits Children's Hospital Central California 12/05/2013
- KJ Choi pledges $100,000 to Typhoon Haiyan Relief in the Philippines 12/04/2013
- Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic donates $125,000 to Habitat for Humanity 12/04/2013