Golfing legend Tiger Woods is most proud of his foundation’s work in educating youth. His TGR Foundation is led by Cynthia Court, whom he tapped in June 2023 to become CEO and expand the educational initiatives the foundation offers in under-resourced communities across America.
According to Mrs. Court, if students do not have access to qualified teachers, stable learning environments, educational resources, extracurricular activities, and advanced classes, they are less likely to graduate from high school or pursue a post-secondary education. This means that they would not be able to secure meaningful work that pays a livable wage.
In 2006, Mr. Woods first set up a TGR Learning Lab to encourage students in fifth to 12th grades to thrive in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and possibly develop future careers in those fields. Since then, the foundation has established other satellite campuses around the country, in Washington, D.C., South Florida, and Quantico, Virginia.
Students are introduced to different subjects from forensic science to marine biology to biotechnology. High school students in particular have access to hands-on experience through paid internships, shadowing professionals, or helping to complete projects at real businesses.
The foundation also provides mentorship for students who are accepted into the Earl Woods Scholar Program (named after Mr. Woods’s father), with mentors committing at least two years to advising students on their journey to post-high school careers. Many maintain relationships with the students throughout their college years and beyond. Mrs. Court shared that one of the program mentors recently attended the wedding of her mentee—whom she met 17 years ago in the foundation’s first cohort of scholars.
American Essence spoke with Mrs. Court and Mr. Woods about the meaning of their mission.
American Essence: Could you share with us a touching example of a youth who found success after participating in a TGR Foundation program?
Cynthia Court: One of the many students who has touched our hearts over the years is Sammy Mohammed. Sammy is the oldest child of an immigrant family and always dreamed of becoming a first-generation college student. Growing up in an under-resourced community in Anaheim, California, he began his journey at our TGR Learning Lab in fifth grade to participate in a week-long STEM field trip focused on marine biology. Motivated, Sammy returned for additional STEM classes through high school where he discovered a passion for computer science and engineering. Sammy was accepted into the Earl Woods Scholar Program in 11th grade and gained Tiger as a mentor. Since graduating from Stanford University, Sammy has begun his engineering career (at Google!) and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at his alma mater. He has not only achieved his personal goals, but he also inspired his younger siblings to enrich their education through TGR Learning Lab programs.
AE: How can more youth from under-resourced communities receive access to education and be encouraged to take advantage of programs like those provided by TGR Foundation?
Mrs. Court: Forming strong relationships with the communities we serve, local school systems, educators, and other community-based organizations has allowed TGR Foundation to serve thousands of youth through our educational programs and enrichment activities each year. We have also extended our reach by providing professional learning to teachers across the country.
Additionally, TGR Foundation is in the process of expanding our physical footprint. We are opening new TGR Learning Labs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, California, in 2025 and 2026, respectively. The new locations will allow us to provide significantly more youth with educational programs tailored to their specific needs. For example, only 6 percent of the students enrolled at the 42 Philadelphian public schools located within a 3-mile radius of our forthcoming TGR Learning Lab achieved proficiency in math on state assessments. We are already offering math tutoring at local schools to start addressing the need for educational enrichment.
AE: What is the greatest challenge TGR Foundation faces heading into 2024? What direction does TGR Foundation wish to take going forward to achieve greater success for the next 25 years?
Mrs. Court: The footprint of TGR Foundation will have tripled in size once the TGR Learning Labs in Philadelphia and Los Angeles open. Executing this expansion will be a significant challenge for the organization, but an important first step towards serving significantly more youth from under-resourced communities. This is a pivotal moment for TGR Foundation, and I am excited to help actualize our vision: a world where opportunity is universal and potential is limitless.
AE: What is it like to work with Mr. Woods? Any examples of a shining moment so far?
Mrs. Court: I recently spent an entire morning with Tiger on a practice green strategizing about a sustainable growth strategy for the organization. After a considerable amount of time discussing strategic direction, Tiger took a moment to stress that the most important thing to him was the quality of our educational programming and the impact we are having on each individual life. He is deeply committed to helping students pursue their passions through education.
I also witnessed some terrific chip shots that morning.
AE: Mr. Woods, of all your incredible successes, which milestone (personally and professionally) are you the proudest of, or do you feel is the best accomplishment thus far?
Tiger Woods: The legacy we’re building at TGR Foundation is going to outlive me, and it’s one that’s bigger than what I’ve done on the golf course.
AE: How has your vision for TGR Foundation impacted youth since its inception?
Mr. Woods: When I was a kid, my parents instilled a simple principle in my life: Try to make an impact in one person’s life, every day. At TGR Foundation, we are doing just that, making a meaningful impact on the lives of youth one day at a time. We believe that everyone can be a champion.
From Jan Issue, Volume 1