How two school districts’ partnership with the Meijer LPGA Classic benefits students

BELMONT, MI – As golfers soar into the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, local school leaders reflect on partnering with the event that has helped support student programs.

The Rockford and Northview school districts continue to play a role in the success of the event at Blythefield Country Club by providing parking and other services.

Cathy Cooper, executive director of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, said the four-day competition that will crown a winner on Sunday, June 20 has a long-standing relationship with neighboring schools.

Related: Four are at the top of the ranking after Meijer LPGA Classic at Grand Rapids

“It’s great when they volunteer,” she says. ” It’s really important. We need them here, we need help.

It comes in the form of high school sports team members doing prep work like staking the golf course or announcing golfers. Outside of class, the students and parents of the encore club play a role in managing parking at the high school parking lots and shuttle systems to the country club.

Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler said the collaboration with Meijer, LGPA and the Blythefield Country Club has been positive for the community in recent years, including the revenue generated to support student programs.

“I think it’s very substantial and I think it establishes an attitude of pride for our community,” he said.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, Shibler said the district hosted the 5k race in conjunction with the golf tournament. He said he was due to be postponed for the second year in a row but would return in 2022.

He said the district had funneled revenue from parking and other services provided to the LPGA and running into middle and high school programs.

Cooper said parking is free this year to make the event as accessible as possible to guests who have been able to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic officials in Rockford had previously said that $ 20,000 of the roughly $ 25,000 generated each year from their participation in the event came from parking and the rest from rental of facilities.

Without this direct source of income this year, Meijer will donate to Rockford this year after the event. The amount of the donation has not yet been established, nor public, but Cooper said it would be a “fair and generous” amount.

Money from past years is largely reinvested in sports programming, both in Rockford and Northview. For example, Northview was able to distribute approximately $ 6,000 to a dozen sports teams in 2018.

Northview Assistant Superintendent Liz Cotter said the ability for several members of their sports teams to volunteer at the event and build relationships with the LPGA is impacting student experiences, not only through funding, but also served as motivation.

“To have a partnership with something like the LPGA – where you have athletes of such caliber competing right here in western Michigan – is really something,” Cotter said. “Being able to partner with our student-athletes gives them something to look at and see future possibilities for them and motivates them to work hard. So it’s a really nice and unique partnership for which we are very grateful.

Shibler added that the event is a reminder of the importance of giving back to the surrounding community.

Proceeds from the golf tournament continue to help fill pantry shelves across the Midwest. The Meijer LPGA Classic grossed over $ 6.3 million for the Meijer Just give program.

“On many levels, this is a really positive (event),” he said. “It really benefits a lot of people, a lot of bands. It’s something that I think we need to do more of, obviously. And now in this world we live in with COVID, I think it’s even more important. “

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