Each year for the past 17 years, two prominent organizations serving youth in the Ojai Valley have come together to support one cause: raising awareness and critical funding for  kids and public schools, all while managing to have some fun on the “links” along the way.

The Ojai Education Foundation and the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation are co-organizers of the Ojai Golf Classic, an annual fundraising event for locals to gather in a festive and fun atmosphere to support a good cause: raising money to fund both “in” school and after-school resources and programs for local kids. The event has something for everyone: Those who golf can come out to enjoy a full round of 18-hole play and nongolfers are invited to come out during lunch to enjoy a delicious meal on the greens.

Working together, OEF and OVYF leadership estimate the event has raised more than $250,000. “This collaboration has been a match made in heaven,” said Laura Denne, OEF board member and co-leader of the Ojai Golf Classic. “Both organizations work tirelessly to support our kids. And our missions are so closely aligned, that it just made sense that we come together each year to collaborate in this way.”

Franci Nelson, OVYF president and co-leader of the Ojai Golf Classic with Denne, agrees this partnership is a great example of how organizations can align their resources for the greater good.  “Because there is only a finite amount of donation dollars to go around in any particular community, particularly in a small community like Ojai, some organizations operate in a very ‘protective” way. I’m so proud to see how our organizations have attracted the type of leadership and volunteer board members that come together year after year to create such a high-quality event. At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying ‘Six Irons and Southern BBQ’ at Soule Park to support Ojai students. It’s a great day for all involved.”

Caryn Bosson, founding executive director for OVYF from 1997 to 2007, said she is thrilled to see the event has stood the test of time. “When OVYF partnered with OEF to put on the Golf Classic, we were looking for sustainable funding for youth programs in Ojai. The Golf Classic has flourished all of these years because of the efforts of hundreds of people, and has made a lasting difference in the lives of students in our public and private schools. Ojai is the better for it.

The 17th annual Ojai Golf Classic is Saturday, April 22, at Soule Park. Go to OjaiGolfClassic.com for more information.