Who We Are

Handshake America is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to coaching high school student-athletes for success in life.

Handshake America recognizes the importance of a proper handshake and what it may reveal about a person's character. Inspired by John Wooden's Pyramid of Success, the Handshake Program utilizes its 5Ps (Perseverance, Passion, Positivity, People, and Presence) to help students learn the elements and definition of "success" while leveraging the experiences they have gained through athletics. The Program consists of a college scholarship, the assignment of a Handshake Coach, and eight meetings throughout the calendar year to help prepare the students for their future.

Handshake America looks for student-athletes who are coachable and have grit.  The students submit applications in the middle of the Junior year which are then reviewed by an independent Selection Committee.  There is maximum of only one male and one female student-athlete selected per school so that others students can clearly see the qualities we value. 

Our Mission

Through caring life coaching relationships with gritty high school students, we enable them to realize their potential for success and improve the spirit of our nation.


Our Purpose and Vision

A national community of 5P Leaders* influencing a culture and uniting the people around them.

*5P Leaders are those who regularly practice and represent the values of Perseverance, Passion, Positivity, People, and Presence

Our History

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 laid 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. Including 2018, the Program has coached 176 student-athletes and granted over $275,000 in scholarships in central Ohio and metro Atlanta. To accommodate the plans for future growth to other cities, the Handshake Foundation became Handshake America in August 2015.

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 in February 2017.  Our plan is to add more cities in the coming years.