Queen Creek resident Jake Walden, 17, a junior golfer with Local First Tee of Phoenix, played in Wednesday’s pro-am with Charles Schwab and Phil Mickelson, as part of an announcement for a new Charles Schwab Challenge Grant supporting First Tee chapters across the country, including First Tee — Phoenix.
This grant program will provide First Tee — Phoenix matching dollars and the opportunity to significantly grow and deepen their impact over the next several years.
“Throughout the last six years of being a member of First Tee Phoenix I have grown a lot both as a golfer and as a person," said Walden, a senior at Higley High School. "I have met some amazing people along the way, a lot of them will remain close friends of mine forever. The First Tee program has taught me so much more than just how to golf. It’s taught me some very important life skills that I will use every single day for the rest of my life.”
As First Tee approaches its 25th anniversary, Schwab has committed transformational support through the new Charles Schwab Challenge Grant. Schwab is chairman and founder of the wealth management firm that has carried his name for almost five decades. The $25 million grant will provide up to a $1 match for every $2 donated to First Tee chapters by individuals, corporations and foundations now through 2026. This grant program will provide First Tee chapters the opportunity to significantly grow and deepen their impact over the next several years.
"I believe in the power of investing to help individuals create a better tomorrow,” Schwab said. "That’s why I am investing in First Tee. I believe in this organization’s mission and the power of the First Tee chapters to continue changing the game for young people for years to come.”
The Charles Schwab Grant Program benefiting First Tee chapters kicked off this week in conjunction with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the final event on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule. The event was at the Phoenix Country Club, where Walden and fellow First Tee — Phoenix participant Abi Morris played alongside Schwab in the Nov. 10 pro-am.
“As we approach our 25th anniversary, it’s a great time for us to reflect on the successes of the past as well as look ahead, focusing on what is needed to leave an even greater impression on the next generation,” said Greg McLaughlin, chief executive officer at First Tee. “This grant program is only possible because of the leadership and commitment of Charles Schwab. We are grateful for his support and the lasting impact it will have on the young people and the communities we serve.”
Next year, First Tee will celebrate 25 years of providing programs that teach life skills and help kids and teens build their strength of character through golf. Impacting more than 3.7 million youth annually, programs are delivered at First Tee chapters, schools and youth centers across the country and select international locations.
Fast facts on Queen Creek's Jake Walden
- Handicap: 1.7; GPA: 3.07.
- Has been involved with First Tee for six years. He currently volunteers as junior coach teaching life skills and golf to younger participants.
- He recently played in the 2021 PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee paired with Billy Mayfair.
- He recognizes the importance of community service, regularly volunteering at the Special Olympics of Arizona.
- He is involved in the DECA Club, which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools.
- Has a rare disease – Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which causes failure of the bone marrow. Jake relies on nine different medical specialists on a regular basis. He has annual bone marrow biopsies and blood draws every three months.