Ernie focuses his charitable pursuits on raising funds and awareness for autism both in the US and internationally through the Els for Autism Foundation as well as supporting underprivileged junior golfers in his native South Africa through the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.
Ernie is also patron of a number of charities including EMMAüS George in South Africa, which is focused on providing adult disabled persons with optimal protection and care; and Cansa, the Cancer Association of South Africa.
The Els for Autism Foundation
The Foundation was established in 2009 by Liezl and Ernie Els shortly after their son Ben was diagnosed with autism. The Foundation has since embarked on a catalytic project; the establishment of a $30 million state-of-the-art Center of Excellence with a local, national and global reach. The Els Center of Excellence, that will be based in Palm Beach County FL, will provide state-of-the-art education and therapy for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders and a global digital learning platform for families, researchers, therapists and teachers throughout the world to gain access to the latest research and programs to help those families touched by Autism.
Due to break ground in 2013, the first phase will develop an academic village offering a powerful combination of traditional educational resources, state-of-the-art technology and well-designed spaces that inspire creativity and individuality for children on the autism spectrum.
The Foundation's most high profile fundraising initiative is the Els for Autism Golf Challenge. Spearheaded by Els, the Golf Challenge is one of the main fundraising initiatives of the Foundation. In 2013 it consists of 20+ Super Regional events at top-rated courses across the US, and Canada from April through September with a Finale in Las Vegas in October. To learn how you can be a part of the challenge, please visit www.e4agolf.com.
To help raise awareness and show support to the autism community Els will be asking his fellow PGA TOUR professionals to join him in wearing an Els for Autism blue and white puzzle piece pin at PGA TOUR tournaments during April: Autism Awareness Month. Pins are also available via www.elsforautism.com/april for members of the public who wish to show their support.
Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation
The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation was founded in 1999 in Els' native South Africa. Focused on golf, education and life skills, the purpose of the Foundation is identifying and assisting young South Africans from families of limited resources who show promise in the game of golf. It serves to provide these individuals with educational assistance and opportunities to play, and in so doing create an environment where not only their playing ability could be developed to its full potential, but they could also be encouraged to become successful young leaders. Among its former members are Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and European Tour winner Branden Grace.
Ernie supports the following charities and causes: