Katherine Bihr, Ed.D. | June 7, 2016

Tiger Woods Foundation: Champions of the Unexpected for 20 Years

For low-income and minority families, the opportunity gap faced by disadvantaged youth is significant. Nonprofit advisor The Bridgespan Group reports that while afterschool and summer learning programs serve as an important source of support for underserved families, supply does not meet demand. More than 8 million African‐American and Latino parents of children who are not enrolled in an afterschool program say that they would enroll their children in quality afterschool programs if one were available—significantly higher than the national average. The unmet demand for summer learning programs is even greater, with an estimated 11 million low‐income parents reporting they wish a high-quality option were available. Ultimately, according to Bridgespan, only 14% of students from low‐income families earn college degrees, and without a college degree, the likelihood that these students can break out of the cycle of poverty is small.

Launched in 1996, the Tiger Woods Foundation (TWF) has a simple, universal vision: for students in need to thrive in school, their communities and the working world. In the wake of the tragedy of 9/11, Tiger Woods knew he wanted to do more than provide golf clinics and programmatic grants. He wanted to create a permanent, safe space for underserved kids to explore their dreams and transform their lives. To address these needs and offer youth a chance to fulfill their full potential, TWF now serves disadvantaged youth through two primary programs: the Tiger Woods Learning Center (TWLC) and the Earl Woods Scholarship (EWS).

In 2003, Tiger, his parents, and community supporters broke ground on the flagship Tiger Woods Learning Center, a 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Anaheim, CA. Since then, TWF has expanded Learning Center operations to Washington, DC, and established satellite campuses in Philadelphia, PA, Stuart, FL and the Marine Corps Base at Quantico in VA, serving more than 145,000 students. TWLC classrooms focus on project-based learning—ranging from forensic science and aerospace to robotics, biotechnology, video production and graphic design—and are equipped with state-of-the art technology and learning tools to deliver high-quality experiences in STEM for students in grades 5-12. Moreover, the learning center experience inspires and empowers students to achieve their career and life goals through the attainment of power skills- the ability to collaborate with others, manage time and express opinions in a productive manner, to name a few.

Established in 2006, in memoriam of the passing of Tiger’s father, the Earl Woods Scholarship supports first-generation college students. With a 98.7% graduation rate, the EWS has produced 149 college graduates to date. Scholarship recipients hail from Orange County, CA, Boston, MA, New York, NY and Washington, DC. The EWS provides funding, mentoring and internship support to all of our scholars. However, it also goes beyond, providing one-on-one assistance to individuals so they may thrive while they are in school and receive support in decision-making for grad school and workforce entry. This guidance includes pointing students to on-campus resources that can address emotional, physical and academic support. Moreover, providing career readiness workshops for resume writing, mock interviews and basic workforce etiquette are other offerings we have found necessary for our scholars’ future success.  

At the beginning of this year, TWF launched a strategic five-year expansion plan, aimed at fulfilling Tiger’s goal of reaching millions of students and teachers worldwide. With plans underway, TWF curriculum and programs will be digitized and disseminated globally. In addition, we have launched STEM Studio, a series of collaborative workshops aimed at providing 5,000 teachers with professional development instruction to change the way STEM is taught in our classrooms. And the EWS aims to double its number of seats by 2020 as well as expand the program to scholars beginning in 11th grade.

Ultimately though, in order to create lifelong learners and truly break the cycle of poverty, our programs foster a growth mindset. In addition to critical academic and professional skills, we strive to make sure our students deeply understand their true potential and work to achieve it. It is this growth mindset, when coupled with good instructional methods and strategies, that is vital to the lifelong success of students from low-income or underserved backgrounds.

At the Tiger Woods Foundation, we are fierce and unwavering advocates for the transformative power of education. You might not expect it when we promise to make the world a better place. But believe us, we will. We’ve been doing it for 20 years.


Dr. Katherine Bihr is the vice president of programs & education at the Tiger Woods Foundation with operations in Anaheim, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Stuart, Florida. Prior to joining TWF, she was the Principal of Vista View Middle School in Fountain Valley, CA. Dr. Bihr serves on the board of directors for the El Viento Foundation which provides education and enrichment opportunities for at-risk students from grades 4-12; and Project Tomorrow which supports the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in K-12 schools and communities. She is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Cesar Chavez Charter Schools for Public Policy.

Learn More About the Tiger Woods Foundation

Where you come from shouldn’t mean failure. At the Tiger Woods Foundation, it doesn’t. Our programs break the cycle of poverty with college-access opportunities for low-income students. At Tiger Woods Learning Center campuses across the country, scholars in grades 5-12 are immersed in an interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum. Here, they make the connection between school and career, while planning a road map to college. Tailored to the needs of the first-generation scholar, the Earl Woods Scholarship provides college scholarships coupled with an unyielding support system. But we don’t stop there. Through dedicated mentors, professional development workshops and internships, our one-to-one philosophy ensures the success of our students in college and beyond. See how our scholars are smashing the cycle of poverty at tigerwoodsfoundation.org and @TWFoundation.

Support This Cause Through Workplace Giving:

Tiger Woods Foundation is a member of America’s Charities. Your company can help TWF by starting an employee giving program with America’s Charities. Our online giving technology and solutions can facilitate your workplace giving campaign and other company cause initiatives. America’s Charities has been mobilizing the workforce to affect social change through employee giving and other company philanthropic initiatives for over 35 years and we have raised more than $650 million of sustainable funds for more than 10,000 nonprofits as a result. 

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