SAN FRANCISCO, February 21, 2012 - - When NFL Cornerback, Eric Wright and his wife LaTanya decided to bring a mentoring program to the neighborhood where Eric grew up, there was no better partner to align with than the Bayview Hunters Point Y, a beacon of hope in the Bayview Hunters Point community for many years. The central themes of character development, overcoming adversity, and community service that Eric and LaTanya believe in are being combined with the Y’s Mentoring Model, a proven mentoring curriculum. “Mentoring is a platform for young people to engage and align with positive role models that can move them towards their fullest potential,” Gina Fromer, District Vice President, Bayview, Buchanan and Mission YMCA’s. Together, the Wrights and the Y will empower young people through the support of committed mentors in a neighborhood that’s among the city’s highest rates of truancy, crime, and substance abuse.
Eric Wright was a stand-out high school athlete and student at Arch Bishop Riordan High School before attending USC and later transferring to UNLV. Eric was selected 53rd overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns where he played for 4 seasons before joining the resurgent Detroit Lions and their impressive run to the playoffs this season. Eric has always had a passion for helping youth and sharing his personal story of overcoming adversity and persevering through difficult times – a passion that he shares with his wife, LaTanya. After getting married in 2010, they founded the Wright Steps Foundation to assist youth who are determined to succeed, and to promote community service as a vehicle to bring solutions to the issues facing disenfranchised communities.
In conjunction with the Bayview Hunters Point Y, the Wright Steps Mentoring Program will:
· Serve high school-aged teenagers who may have made some poor choices and are in need of guidance, support, and a “second chance” to get back on track
· Incorporate fun and engaging activities such as college tours, guest speakers, rap sessions, and field trips, exposing mentees to opportunities outside of their immediate everyday surroundings
· Utilize the Y’s Youth Development strategies and risk management protocols to ensure the safety of our youth
· Utilize monthly community service projects as one of the primary vehicles for mentor-mentee engagement
· Include an introductory sports event to engage the mentors and mentees, and to break down “trust barriers” as they begin their match period of six months
· Features a culminating event at the end of the match period, where participants will be recognized and celebrated
· Measure and report the results to continually improve the program and deepen its impact
With an expected launch date in mid-March, Eric Wright is making a personal appeal to those with a heart for young people and the community to become a mentor and provide the gift of their time and attention. While the problems of our city may seem large, together we can chart a new direction for San Francisco’s most disadvantaged by supporting the growth and development of one young person at a time – and by doing so, we will encourage the aspirations of their friends, families and others throughout the community.
“I think this is a fantastic program. I am really excited about this because of the positive benefit that it will provide the youth in our community. Professionals in the community are excited about the opportunity as well- many have said they had positive role models growing up and didn’t even realize it. They are happy to have the opportunity to give back to youth in the community. Without the mentors and role models I had growing up, I probably would have gotten in trouble and missed the opportunities that I had growing up through sports and school.”
Mike Kirtman, Bayview Community native and Wright Steps Program Coordinator (Mike went to college on a football scholarship and played in the NFL for 3 years.
“Throughout our lives we were fortunate enough to have positive mentors to support and guide us. Whether it be family members, coaches, or teachers, we always had someone to help steer us in the right direction and that is something that everyone needs for success and what we want to provide for the youth here in Bayview Hunters Point.” -Eric & LaTanya Wright
The Y will be hosting a press conference with Eric Wright for local television, radio and newspapers on Tuesday, Frbruary 21st at 11:00am and Eric is available for phone interviews before and after that date. For more info, please visit the program website at www.WrightStepsFoundation.org and contact the representatives shown above.