First Tee – Silicon Valley (FTSV) experienced a challenging 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related safety protocols which only allowed us to operate at 30% of program capacity. However, we applied one of First Tee’s Nine Core Values – Perseverance – by making adjustments to the program, keeping the organization going, improving our resources for coaches, participant and families, and creating new ways to for donors to support us.
FTSV Key Operational Strategies:
- Applied for PPP and SBA Loans immediately and received funds to sustain operations
- Applied for and received grants for Covid-19 PPE supplies from USGA and SV Bank
- Retained Core Staff of 9 to maintain operations, created ways to stay connected to our families and supporters, and strengthened the business for the future
- Developed additional coaching tools, and enhanced our coach and parent resources by creating a video resource library
- Conducted extensive programming scenario planning with our golf course partners to continue our classes to the maximize number of participants within safely guidelines
- Held extensive fundraising scenario planning sessions with our Board to maximize giving
- Cut costs to preserve cash flow reserves and be more efficient for the future
When the Covid-19 lock down became a reality in mid-March, we were ready to start our Spring season with 550 students registered for our 8-week season at our 3 course locations. We were forced to cancel the season. We were also providing our DRIVE Outreach program to 20 in-school PE programs or after-school locations. As schools transitioned to on-line learning for the remainder of the year, we had to put our outreach efforts on hold. In the void of outreach programming our staff built an online resource portal including best practices and lesson plans for the school leaders to utilize when schools and community youth programs return.
Despite the hiatus in our outreach programming, offseason events, and our 8-week Spring season it was important for us to maintain a sense of community and stay connected. Our programming staff quickly launched weekly Zoom activities for participants that included: constructing their own mini golf course at home, posting about who is on their go-to/support team (which is an Eagle/4th level core lesson), building and playing a homemade putt bowling game, creating beautiful core values artwork, and showing responsibility by competing in a fun laundry toss contest.
The Spring season marked the largest enrollment for an Ace class (highest level for high schoolers) in FTSV history – 14 participants! Despite the COVID-19 crisis, these participants took their Ace-Career Exploration class online via Zoom and learned about self-awareness, types of industries and business functions, informational interviews, planning, and resume building. The Ace classes continued with these participants and more learning about their golf game (Summer), future education (Fall), and volunteerism (Winter).
With new Covid-19 County protocols for holding Youth Activities (e.g., 1 coach per 12 students), FTSV conducted our Summer classes using a hybrid model of 3 weeks on Zoom and 5 weeks in-person classes at 2 of our course locations from July 5th to August 8th with 117 participants, 19 coaches, and 16 volunteers. With additional access at our 3rd course location, FTSV conducted our Fall season with all in-person classes from September 12th to November 7th with a limited capacity of 159 participants, 23 coaches, and 22 volunteers. We ended the year with our Winter season from December 1st to February 6th with a limited capacity of 188 participants, 18 coaches, and 31 volunteers. We feel very fortunate to have been able to serve 368 unique participants in 2020 – about 30% of pre-Covid-19 capacity.
To keep our classes going, our team worked hard to ensure our policies were in line with County safety procedures and all safety policies were followed with consistency. We created safety videos, signs, and adjusted our class procedures, class layout, and games. Temperatures were taken, masks and gloves were worn, and coaches and participants maintained physical distance. As a result of everyone’s commitment to safety our classes took place without interruption due to COVID-19.
Despite Covid-19, various FTSV youth received special recognition through scholarships.
- Francis Agcaoili – FTSV Dennis Kettman Memorial college scholarship
- Nancy Rivera – FTSV Joyce Taylor Eagle Award and college scholarship
- Juan Pablo Roa and Mitchell Fong – FT National Chevron STEM college scholarship
- Borina Sutikto – FT PURE Insurance Championship scholarship
Our Board, CEO and Development Director worked equally as hard at rescheduling and creating new ways for donors to support us during Covid-19:
- Classic Tournament scheduled in April was postponed to September – changed from shot gun to straight tee times with no large gatherings
- Invitational Tournament at CordeValle scheduled in July was postponed to October
- Open Tournament scheduled in June was cancelled (-$250K gross)
- Created new Caddy Club Donor Appreciation Program for no-contact giving
- Created new Challenge Cup golf outings with golf clubs
- CEO sent personal notes to long-time major donors with updates and asking for earlier gifts to help us during challenging times
FTSV raised $800,000 in 2020 plus an additional $123,500 PPP Loan
- $175,000 Grants and Foundations
- $193,000 Annual Giving
- $101,000 Participant Fees
- $73,000 Classic Golf Tournament
- $200,000 Invitational Golf Tournament
- $58,000 Challenge Cup
We are so grateful for our donors for their support, team of coaches and volunteers for their commitment, and participants and families for sticking with us during these challenging times. Much like life, FTSV is stronger having persevered through a challenging phase.