In the summer of 2011, creator Doug Probst shared an idea with Roger Rawlins and Bill Jordan - two of his fellow executives at DSW Inc. They were each accustomed to writing checks and sitting on non-profit boards but they yearned for a more personal and direct way to give back to the community. The simple idea was to create a team of like-minded and successful professionals to coach high school students by leveraging the mutual appreciation for the life lessons learned through participation in athletic competition. The creation of a focused, annual program with a team-based approach would enable meaningful one-on-one coaching of high school students, without requiring an overwhelming demand of time.
After sharing stories of the negative impact of poor first impressions they established a framework on which the program could grow and the Handshake Foundation was born. On February 9th, 2012 they were having their first coaching session with the first three students of The Handshake Program. To accommodate the plans for future growth to other cities, the Handshake Foundation became Handshake America in August 2015. Through 2019, the Program has coached 224 students and granted more than $325,000 in scholarships.
Handshake America has been steadily growing since it was founded in 2011. Every year, Handshake America has expanded to reach out to more students and more schools in the Columbus, OH area and we launched the Program in Atlanta, GA in February 2017. Our plan is to add more cities in the coming years.