Throughout the past two decades, John, a former physical education teacher, has run programs that have mentored thousands of young folks.
John is the founder and director of Project UPLIFT (Utilizing Positive Leaders to Influence Future Talent), a Modesto, Calif.-based program that matches at-risk students with adults who serve as mentors. Project UPLIFT has received numerous accolades from local government and media throughout the years. Because of his work in Modesto, John speaks at conferences and seminars throughout the United States on the direct influence that adults can have in the lives of youth.
For more than 14 years, John managed after-school program and community service for the Modesto City School District. During that time, the California Endowment tabbed John's program as a "Success Story" saying: "Over a 10-year period Ervin has helped to spearhead the imple- mentation of his school district’s wellness policy, turning MCSD— serving 31,000 students—into a model of increased physical activity, nutrition education, and nutritional services. After-school programs have been critical to its success. When Ervin was hired in 1998, initially as after-school coordinator, only two sites offered after-school programs; today 18 sites serve more than 1,800 students." John received the CCROPP Cultivator Award from the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program for his efforts with MCSD.
John, a military veteran, is also a founding member of the Sankofa Theatre Company. John helped found the company, in part, "to give youth in the area the opportunity to participate in all facets of culturally relevant performing arts."