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Elevate Inc. is Proud to Welcome Chi Chi Rodrigues Youth Foundation to The Community!

September 13, 2021

Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, Inc.

Play with Purpose 

Mission: to educate students in a public-private partnership and improve their academicperformance, self-esteem, and character using the golf course as a living classroom.

The Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation is the principal operator of two educational programs: the Chi ChiRodriguez Academy and First Tee – Clearwater, as well as two public businesses: the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Cluband Chi Chi Rodriguez Driving Range.

The target group for Academy’s activities is children ranging in ages from 5 to 17. They currently serve more than 3,600children in our programs. Up to ninety (90) of those are students that attend the Chi Chi Academy, a privatelysupported public school in partnership with the Pinellas County School Board for students who have been identified as at risk of dropping out of school.

Underperforming student candidates are typically identified and referred to the Academy by Pinellas County SchoolDistrict guidance counselors. Students mostly live north of Ulmerton Road in Largo to Tarpon Springs.

To be accepted into the program, a child must meet two or more of the following requirements: (1) have poor grades; (2) perform below state expectations on standardized testing (3) be socially withdrawn; (3) have poor school attendance; (4) from a single parent home; (5) on some form of government assistance.

The Foundation uses a holistic approach in its programs. Emphasis is placed on homework assistance, tutoring, socialskills, core values, personal grooming, business skills, retail, art, landscaping, and golf. Golf was chosen as a keyingredient for the program because it does not require extraordinary size, speed, or strength to achieve success. The sportdoes, however, require consistent personal discipline, concentration, honesty, motivation and tenacity. These teachable traits plus exposure to role models of successful adult golfers made golf a natural choice.


Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy – Public Partnership School

Preparing Students for Success in the Game of Life

The Public Private Partnership School known as Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy is a voluntary school for fourththrough eighth grade students not achieving at their grade level, have low self-esteem or have difficulty adjusting to alarger academic environment. Students learn through interactive experiences in the fields of management, marketing,retail sales, landscaping, agronomy and various other real-world business environments.

Through the school’s “Shadow Program”, students, on a rotating basis, get to work with an adult in every departmentof the Youth Foundation, including the Golf Club and Driving Range businesses. While learning about various jobs,students see how basic educational skills like math and reading are used on an everyday basis in jobs. The teachers verify that students are much more enthusiastic when they see how skills they learn in the classroom are used outside the classroom, in the real world. The Shadow Program also reinforces social skills, which are an integral part of oureducational setting.

The Pinellas County School system provides the teachers, the teacher assistants, support staff, student services andtechnology and the Foundation provides the campus facility, golf education and equipment, as well as classroomenrichment materials. The golf club delivers the real-life learning experience.

“We maximize the resources that the students would receive at traditional schools and provide them with additionalsupport. The students have a much greater opportunity to succeed because of that support,” according to our Chairmanof the Board, Tom James.

The small school atmosphere, individualized attention, counseling, availability of student services and specializedinstructional components taught by the Pinellas County certified teachers foster a desire in Chi Chi’s Kids to succeed inschool and life.

  • Academy Alumni graduation rate is 78%. This includes 7 classes of 8th graders completing Chi Chi’s andattending Pinellas County High Schools and all were deemed at-risk for dropping 
  • 2019 Middle School Midterm Exam Scores – Science Class Average:
  • 6th grade: 4% higher than the District – 7th grade: 7% higher than the District -8th grade: 3% higher than the District
  • 2019 Middle School Midterm Exam Scores – Math Class Average:
  • 6th grade: 1% higher than the District – 7th grade: Same as District (.4%higher) – 8th grade: 2% higher than the District

What Makes Chi Chi’s Programs Unique?

The most unique feature about the Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy and its programs is the land they live on. The 170 acrecampus, comprised of a public golf course and driving range, serves as a living classroom for the students to increasetheir knowledge of the world.


Golf: Students learn core values and life lessons seamlessly through golf with First Tee – Clearwater curriculum.



Native Bird Boxes: In October 2014, students along with volunteersand Native Bird Boxes owner Brian Beckner, built 22 bird boxes toplace on the golf club’s 170 acres. The different birds the boxeswere built for include blue birds, flying squirrels, screech owls andwoodpeckers. Throughout the year, students go on the course to help monitor the boxes as a part of their science curriculum.



Horticulture: Students maintain gardens on campus with a volunteer who works with each class on growing vegetables that the students can later pick and eat.



Shadow Program: Students get to spend time with adults in everydepartment of the Golf Club and Foundation. While learning aboutthe various jobs, the children see how basic educational skills likemath and reading are used everyday.








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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.

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