Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation Experiences Growth Spurt
New Academy Innovates Education for At Risk Youth
By Renee Burrell
Ribbon Cutting of Progress Energy Florida Practice and Learning Center - (From left to right) Mayor Frank Hibbard (City of Clearwater), Rick James (Max James Family Foundation), Tom James (CEO, Raymond James), Jeff Corbett (Senior Vice President, Progress Energy), Frank Chivas (Owner, Marlin Darlin Grill), Dr. Clayton Wilcox (Superintendent, Pinellas County School District), and Fred Whaley (Managing Director, Raymond James)
CLEARWATER - The unveiling of the new Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy and newly renovated Progress Energy Practice and Learning Center revealed that the Clearwater campus may become a future model for other academies of its type nationwide.
Fifty community leaders gathered November 6 at the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club, 3030 North McMullen Booth Road, for dedication ceremonies.
Frank Chivas, restaurant owner of Marlin Darlin, Island Way Grill, Rumba, and the Salt Rock Grill is the Foundation's Development Committee Chairman and was accredited with designing the campus renovations for the expansion which include new classrooms, landscaping, and extra space added to the Bob James Education Center.
The Academy will now increase its student body by admitting sixth and seventh graders and in the future will accommodate up to 250 students.
The Academy's unique learning programs focus on improving the self esteem of low-income youths, who are at risk of dropping out of school. Along with traditional academics, students are instructed in social and character development by using the golf course, with all of its rules and etiquette, as a living classroom.
The Academy's programs consist of a public school that's in partnership with the Pinellas County School District, an after school enrichment program, The First Tee of Clearwater youth character and golf education program, and The Community Service Program.
Progress Energy Florida, Glase Construction, Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and The Max James Family Foundation contributed to the practice area which will be used by students and participants attending one of the Academy's four programs.
The Foundation was formed in 1979 by the trio of Robert James, founder of Raymond James, professional golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez and former educator Bill Hayes. At present Tom James, Robert's son, is Chairman of the Board.
For more information phone 727-726-8829 or visit the Foundation on the Web at: www.chichi.org
Development Board Chairman Frank Chivas said, "We are proud to be part of such a wonderful organization and I am thrilled that so many have reached out to the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation in hopes of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children."
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