Meet the college Freshman Class of 2022! Most of these 6th graders in Kids on Course from Wilson and Roosevelt Middle School will be the first in their families to graduate from college.
Coe College and the team at Kids on Course spent months planning the event on April 12, 2016. The day allowed these young people to experience life on campus beyond a typical tour. They took pre-law classes, made pottery and received personalized sports training from college athletes.
I was the first in my family to attend and graduate from college in the traditional manner (right after high school). My degree propelled me into a life that gave me choices, security and a career I adore. I owe much of that opportunity to my mom, who led by example. She earned her own college degree one year before I did, and then went on to earn her Master’s.
That’s why I love supporting kids who have faced obstacles to college… be it income, academic struggles, childhood trauma, etc. And “College” doesn’t have to mean a 4-year degree, it can mean anything that involves education after high school. And that’s the whole purpose of Kids on Course. Getting kids to graduation day in High School ready for that next field of study: earning an Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, cosmetology certification, a trade or apprenticeship.
We know the statistics are not reassuring for students from low income households who are the first in their families to attend college. According to the New York Times only 11% of these college students earn a four year degree within six years of starting college. But Kids on Course is relying on research to do what works to change that statistic. Our students receive tutoring if they’re struggling in reading in elementary school, they attend a free summer camp to shore up literacy and math skills, and their parents learn strategies to support kids’ learning. We know that success in high school often means more than good grades, it also means being connected positively through extra-curricular activities.
The visit to Coe included an activities fair so Kids on Course students could see what college is like outside of the classrooms. They learned how to do a roundhouse kick in Tae Kwon Do, they saw how ROTC students know how to save someone’s life with a CPR demonstration, and sorority and fraternity members made stress balls out of flour and balloons with kids. And then there was a big sports demonstration that got kids sweating, laughing and running to keep up!
Thank you to Coe for hosting this fantastic day and the many people who made this experience possible! I saw lots of faces light up with the understanding that college is fun and within their reach.
– Beth Malicki, Program Leader for Kids on Course
I remember when I was a second grader waking up on Saturday mornings, throwing on my reversible red and blue YMCA soccer shirt, strapping up shin guards, chugging a Gatorade and heading out to the soccer park to play on my rec soccer team. I don’t remember scoring many goals or playing goalie, but I remember fun with friends and the feeling of racing down the field. In high school, I played on an indoor team with a group of youth Kurdish refugees from Iraq. I was the only kid on the team whose first language was English, but regardless of our cultural and language differences, we both shared a love for soccer.
In the United States, I would use one word to describe our relationship with soccer: passion. As an adult, you have to be truly passionate to find somewhere to play soccer. In the past, you had to be passionate enough to pay ridiculous amounts of money for special soccer channels. You have to be passionate enough to play pick up games with total strangers.
Passion is how I would describe Van Buren kids and soccer. At 11:25 am on any day of the week, fourth and fifth grade recess coalesces into a huge game of soccer. They play on a windswept hill right outside the school. On hot days, the kids come in from this game sweating and huffing. On cold days, they blow warm breath into their shivering hands and play on.
Kids on Course has provided after school recreational soccer enrichment classes for these kids since the beginning. But we are now proud to partner with the Cedar River Soccer Association (CRSA) to provide kids with a professionally run soccer academy experience.
CRSA reached out to Kids on Course, to provide kids who would otherwise not have the opportunity to play club soccer, a chance to join CRSA. Some of these kids have not played soccer in a formal setting before, but have endless hours of “street ball” under their belt. This formal experience can hone their raw skills and talent.
Alen Kudumovic, Director of Coaching, and Jason Witt, a Professional Coach with CRSA, have been very welcoming and gracious to work with as we get our students involved. There are currently 15 KOC students from Van Buren, Harrison, Roosevelt, and Wilson building their skills with CRSA on a weekly basis.
This past weekend, Jason and Alen hosted a special Soccer Festival for Kids on Course students. This opened the doors to students who have shown and interest in soccer through enrichment classes, but have not yet joined training through CRSA.
Twenty-two kids from Van Buren, Harrison, and Grant elementary schools participated in the event. They first worked on ball skills and then split into teams to play four-on-four games. The kids loved this experience. Some were nervous at first to join in, but everyone ended up having a great time.
Jason and Alen created a positive, nurturing learning environment for the kids, emphasizing fun and growth over winning. We are excited for our partnership with CRSA to continue, as we are able to help connect more kids with professional coaching and an organization that can help refine their skills.
– Greg White, Van Buren Site Manager
This year’s Zach Johnson Foundation Classic was one to remember. Not only did we raise a record amount of money for our Kids on Course program, but we also had one of the best fields we’ve ever had.
In 2015, we had more than 70 sponsors that wrapped their arms around the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic and our Kids on Course program. These sponsors gave us $624,500 in revenue, which is $129,500 more than what we raised through sponsorship last year. We also raised a record amount in our auction–$213,000, which included more than $26,000 in our Bid for Kids that allows students to participate in activities outside of regular Kids on Course programming. Our grand total this year was $845,000!
This year’s pro golfers included Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Davis Love III, Jay Haas and Kenny Perry just to name a few. Celebrities at this year’s event included Chris Soules (the most recent star of ABC’s The Bachelor), Alfonso Ribeiro and lots of former University of Iowa athletes.
Even though we were only able to play 9 holes of golf this year, the success couldn’t have been better! We appreciate everyone that was involved in this event. We have more than 350 volunteers who help make it possible each and every year. Thank you to all who donate their time, money and expertise!
The Zach Johnson Foundation Classic is a two-part event: a fundraiser gala and auction for sponsors and participants and a Pro-Am charity golf tournament. Last year’s golf tournament drew a crowd of 2,500 at Elmcrest Country Club and brought many big names, both on and off the golf course. The dollars raised support Kids on Course. The Zach Johnson Foundation fully funds the program.
The Kids on Course Program Leader, Beth Malicki, recorded a podcast with Gazette Sports columnist Mike Hlas about the Zach Johnson Foundation, the upcoming golf tournament, Beth’s role with the Foundation and Kids on Course, and what the program does.
Listen to the full podcast here and don’t forget to save the date for the Classic on Monday!