Youth Unlimited

Motivating Young Men and Young Women
to Recognize And Increase Their Value to Themselves and Their Communities.

Proof Of Concept

 

7603 Callbram Lane

Austin, TX  78736

September 11, 2008


Dear Fellow Educators:

 

 

I would like to share with you the significant work that Richard Franklin accomplished on my campus during the 2006 – 2007 school year.  His impact on school climate and sense of belonging, as well as student achievement among our African American boys, did a great deal to transform Covington Middle School.  Let me begin with the hard data, as that will be where your first questions about the program’s success can be answered.  As can be confirmed from the Texas Education Agency website for Covington Middle School (Austin, TX) our TAKS data shows the following:

 

African American Test Results

Test

2006 % of students passing

2007

% of students passing

Gain among African American Students

Comparative gain of All Students at Covington Middle School

Reading

68

85

+17

+4

Writing

84

99

+15

+6

Social Studies

67

79

+12

+11

Mathematics

46

68

+22

+6

 

How did this happen for us?  I had studied the 2006 TAKS results and knew that if we did not do something fundamentally different, the school would be Academically Unacceptable and would fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2007, driven by African American scores. So I began an outreach to African American students to change how they felt about school, about academic achievement, and their own potential for success.  I took them to events sponsored by UT’s Center for African and African American Studies.  I took them to an event at the Carver Museum and then I took a group of boys to Michael Lofton’s Conference for Men and Boys.

 

It was at the Saturday Conference for Men and Boys that I met Richard Franklin and began a yearlong conversation with him about what was going on with our young men. It was clear that we could not depend on the Saturday conferences because of students’ obligations with sports, band and family.  We needed to bring a program to them during the school day. He began coming to Covington Middle School once a week from October through May.  I pulled the boys who wanted to attend from their classes, with assurances to the teachers that students would make up their work.  The sessions began with sharing stories and a fair amount of laughter and playfulness.  Sometimes the session was held in the gym, sometimes in an available classroom.  Mr. Franklin brought guest speakers who had careers in the music industry and the NFL.  He shared examples of how African Americans are portrayed in television and film and encouraged students to think about whether they wanted those media roles to define them. Additionally, he talked to them about their futures.  These are some of the structured parts of his program.  What held it all together was his charisma, authenticity and love for these young men.  They began to ask more questions and began to see the connection between these discussions and their own lives.

 

My relationship with the participants changed.  I knew their names, their concerns, their strengths and their personalities.  They began to talk to me- -about school issues, home, things that needed changing and their successes.  They did not hesitate to approach me about working something out, including one who used my office as his locker while he was on crutches.  I retired at the end of 2007.  I found in my basket of good-bye cards numerous notes from the students who participated in the weekly sessions.  Their gratitude and their personal growth were deeply gratifying and touching.

 

When the state test results arrived, the teachers, counselors and administrators cheered when we unveiled the African American gains.  We knew we had seen increased motivation and effort among our African American boys.  We had not dared to hope for such tangible improvements.  I can attest that the improvements in test scores should be attributed to Richard Franklin’s work on the campus.  Nothing else had changed between 2006- -not the teachers or the curriculum, not the staff or policies in the counseling and administrative offices.

I have every reason to believe that these results can be replicated on other campuses, where a principal clears any obstacles so that Richard and the students can meet weekly, bond with one another, and learn to love and trust one another.

 

 

Best regards,

 

Karon Rilling, Ed.D.

Retired principal, Austin ISD

E-mail:  karon.rilling@gmail.com

 

 

September 6, 2011

To whom it may concern,

 

My name is Don Wise. I was the first principal to work with Mr. Richard Franklin in his youth program and I would like to speak to you about this program and the remarkable impact it had on the students I worked with.


In 2006 I was principal of Manor Middle School in Manor, Texas. When I took over the leadership of the campus it was in very poor shape. The campus was academically unacceptable and both students and teachers had very low esteem. There were an incredible amount of discipline issues.  When I would speak to the students about passing the state assessment, typically they would say to me, “Mr. Wise we are not supposed to pass the TAKS test, we are from Manor.”  Something else that I determined was many of our most at risk students believed that the teachers were not there to help them and that no one cared if they passed or failed.  I knew something had to be done to motivate students and help them build the dispositions they would need to open opportunities for a successful future. So when I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Franklin I jumped at the chance.

 

When I initially had the opportunity to work with Mr. Franklin his program was called AAMP.  It was a mentoring program designed to assist African American male students. Prior to meeting with the students Mr. Franklin received permission from every parent. In a very short time I set up schedules so he could meet with all of the 250 seventh and eighth grade male students in small groups of about twenty or so. As an incentive to attend, students could only report to the sessions if they were not failing any classes and they had approval from the teachers. We monitored behavior as well. There was a strong response from our students and all of them wanted to attend these sessions. Mr. Franklin is incredibly charismatic with the students and talks to them in a very no nonsense manner. His lessons are relevant to the world the students live in and included subjects like the following:

 

  1. The money handshake
  2. Perceptions: How you dress and how others see you
  3. Do the teachers really care about you?
  4. How does doing well in school affect your future?

 

He also had a whole series of lessons and discussion points based on the movie “Freedom Writers”

 

As building principal I had the opportunity to walk in and observe some of his student meetings.  Some of the baggage that the students were carrying was incredible. I would literally see students crying as they told him their thoughts that no one cared about them or that the teachers didn’t care about them. After the fifth or sixth meeting the attitude of these students began to change. The discipline decreased dramatically and grades improved. No where was the impact more noticeable than on the TAKS test.


These are the scores from the time frame one year before to a year after Mr. Franklin’s program was operational on our campus.

 

 

African American

Hispanic

White

Eco Dis

2007 7th Reading

57

69

76

61

2008 7th Reading

71

61

86

62

2009 7th Reading

77

73

90

76

Difference

+20

+4

+14

+15

 

 

 

 

 

2007 8th Reading

72

77

86

74

2008 8th Reading

92

83

91

83

2009 8th Reading

93

88

96

91

1st Adm only

+21

+11

+10

+17

 

 

 

 

 

2007  7th Math

43

54

76

50

2008 7th Math

61

61

93

45

2009 7th Math

60

62

81

61

Difference

+17

+8

+5

+11

 

 

 

 

 

2007  8th  Math

49

55

82

51

2008  8th Math

58

55

74

55

2009 8th Math

56

68

88

68

Difference

+7

+13

+6

+17

1st Adm only

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007 7th Writing

79

83

82

77

2008 7th Writing

81

72

95

73

2009 7th Writing

91

87

93

87

Difference

+12

+4

+11

+10

 

 

 

 

 

2007 8th Soc Stu

76

74

94

71

2008 8th Soc Stu

84

79

91

78

2009  8th Soc Stu

93

90

93

90

Difference

+17

+16

-1

+19

 

 

 

 

 

AEIS reports TEA


The scores are actually higher since the data I have presented is only from the first administration. Needless to say the self esteem from the students rose dramatically. I literally went from no students caring about grades or the TAKS test to hundreds of eighth grade students lining up to see what their scores were as soon as they came in. Although the AAMP program initially targeted one segment of students, the impact on discipline, classroom management, grades, student self esteem and environment could be felt campus wide. As a comparison, since Mr. Franklin’s program was dismantled and after my departure as principal, the campus is again low performing in multiple areas.


Mr. Franklin’s program did far more than I can state. He met multiple times with parents to discuss his program, checked on student’s grades and discipline, mentored, role modeled and built a warm and caring rapport with the students he worked with.  He is one of the few people I can unequivocally state has opened up opportunities and the futures of students. I give his program my highest recommendation.

 

If you have any questions please feel free to call. My number is (512) 983-2594.


Sincerely,

Don Wise, M. Ed

 

 

 

 

The University of Texas at Austin

Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

August 4, 2011

 

TO:                       Potential Partners of Youth Unlimited

 

FROM:                Patrick Patterson, Executive Director

 

SUBJECT:           Letter of Support for the Youth Unlimited Program

 

Mr. Franklin led one of the finest community outreach programs that I have collaborated with during my 18 years of campus principal work in the Austin ISD.

 

We contracted Mr. Franklin to work with freshman male students during the 2009-2010 school -year at LBJ High School in Austin ISD. During the preceding year, behavioral issues and low test scores had become an issue for this demographic, and since I planned to retire as LBJ principal at the end of the year, I wanted to end my career on a high note. I previously worked with Mr. Franklin in various community outreach efforts, and I was aware of excellent work that he led at other Austin area schools.

 

Mr. Franklin was and is committed, reliable, passionate, and most importantly, effective in helping LBJ attain its organizational goals of higher test scores and lower incidences of inappropriate behavior at the ninth grades level. If I were still at the high school campus in a leadership role, I would not hesitate in seeking his assistance for a similar role. His methods are unique.  I found that the students related to him in a “real” sense, and they appreciated the candor in the learning sessions. I highly recommend this endeavor with no reservations.

 

If you need further assistance please contact me.

 

Cell 512-587-1448        Office 512-232-4603                                    

 

patrickkpatterson@austin.utexas.edu

 

 

 Letter from Wanda Fryer of Gonzales Junior High School



6207 Sheridan Austin Texas 78723 Suite 300