In 1986, The Ray Charles Foundation — a private non-profit organization — was created by Ray Charles.
In that same year he founded “The Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders” in Los Angeles, California. This non-profit organization was formed and operated by Ray Charles and operated under this name until the suggestion was made to change its name in 2006 after the death of Ray Charles. So, in 2006, the name of the Foundation was changed to “The Ray Charles Foundation” in order to bring awareness to his name, his philanthropic generosity and his foundation. The Foundation’s mission remained the same. From 1995 until his death in 2004, in addition to providing financial support in the area of ‘hearing disorders’, Ray Charles directed the Foundation to make donations and support institutions and organizations for educational purposes. In its earlier years, “The Ray Charles Foundation” provided contributions and grants to causes and institutions involved in finding cures for hearing disorders, for causes and institutions involved in research for hearing disorders and for corrective surgery for the disadvantaged hearing impaired. The Foundation expanded its reach and has provided contributions for educational purposes of the disadvantaged and needy. Prior to being the executive face of ‘The Ray Charles Foundation’, Valerie Ervin established her tenure with the organization by working closely alongside Ray Charles and being entrusted with every aspect of the organization prior to his death in 2004.
She worked alongside Ray Charles for most of her adult professional career. She learned the value of hard work, determination and perseverance from Ray Charles; she learned how to overcome challenges; she learned the value of integrity and persistence; learned the importance and value of reaching out to underprivileged communities and youth. She learned the intricacies of the music business, personal relations, cultural diversity and business integrity. Ray Charles taught her about the unlimited human potential and more specifically, how to tap the genius inherent in each person.
As the guardian of Ray Charles’ legacy, she has proven her commitment to carrying forward the vision and philanthropic mission set forth by Ray Charles. However, in addition, Valerie Ervin negotiates music contracts on behalf the Foundation; she manages and oversees all commercial, business, marketing and musical financial interest and revenues generated by and maintained by the Foundation.
She worked on the lower level of Ray Charles’ building for one of his tenants. Ray Charles and his long-time business manager, Joe Adams, hired her to work at their organization years later. To date, she remains a loyal steward to the legacy of Ray Charles. Her approach to business and the daily operation of The Ray Charles Foundation remains consistent with the principles, tenets and integrity with which Ray Charles and Joe Adams conducted business for more than five decades.
Under the close tutelage of Ray Charles and Joe Adams, Valerie Ervin learned the intricacies of the entertainment business, the music business, the record business, the film business and the importance of integrity and passion in making a difference in the community.
Valerie Ervin has received more than a dozen awards, plaques of recognition and appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, numerous business organizations, entertainers, record companies, secondary and higher learning educational institutions and other foundations for her unrelenting efforts and achievements at Ray Charles’s organization.
With the passing of Ray Charles in June 2004, the distinguished yet formidable task of carrying forth the mission and vision of Ray Charles was entrusted to Valerie Ervin.
In following in the footstep of her mentors, Ray Charles and Joe Adams, Valerie Ervin has already earned the reputation for being a consummate professional and an astute business person, while maintaining the uncompromising rigorous discipline of running this multi-million dollar foundation with the precision and accuracy of a Swiss made clock.