Ernest Wright, Sr. began Pro Kids Golf Academy and Learning Center in November 1994. His goal was to increase minority children/youth participation in San Diego junior golf programs. Colina Park Golf Course (in the City Heights area of San Diego, formerly a home of vagrants and a site for drug deals and gang activity) was converted from an abandoned golf course to a community asset and youth sports program, now reaching more than 5,500 kids. Pro Kids is one of the only junior golf programs in America where youth can play “at their own golf course.”
The City Heights area of San Diego suffers from a lack of educational facilities, crime, high unemployment, a low median income, deteriorating commercial and residential properties and a poor community image. Despite challenges, Pro Kids has grown exponentially from 24 kids in the first class to more than 5,500 students participating in 30,000 rounds of golf and lessons a year. All at no expense to the child/families, and . . . all because of Ernest Wright.
Wright receives no compensation for the thousands of hours he spends chairing committees, soliciting friends, golfing with prospective donors, and taking care of “day-to-day” business.
To address significant educational problems, Wright has created the Pro Kids Learning Center Foundation, which is building a $1.7 million clubhouse and Computer Learning Center for the kids and future kids in need.
The Pro Kids Board of Directors represents the ethnic diversity of the San Diego inner city community. All 60 Board Members are involved in golfing with the kids, and contributing equipment/donations to keep the program going and growing.
On his 60th birthday, Wright chose to make it a fundraising celebration for Pro Kids providing college scholarships to 14 inner city youth. His selfless commitment goes beyond typical volunteer service. His sense of caring, responsibility for others and commitment to service and citizenship is demonstrated in the many organizations in which he plays an active role. He is a member of the Crime Commission’s Board of Directors and the County Crime Stoppers. Wright boasts an illustrious 13-year career as a NFL player with the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals. An avid golfer, Wright shares his enthusiasm for sports and kids with all whom he comes into contact. Few can resist his charismatic spirit.
Wright has received local recognition for his work and leadership in improving the lives of at-risk children and youth. These awards include special recognition by the Superior Court of the State of California, Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assembly, the George Bush National Award for Volunteerism presented by Shell Oil, and numerous local nonprofit awards such as United Way and Boys and Girls Club.