Youth Unlimited

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

Letters from Students and Staff

 Dear Mr. Franklin,

I am one of the READ 180 teachers at Covington Middle School. My class consists of the students who did not pass last years TAKS test in Reading. I have many of your African American Leadership Circle boys...Kamren, Robert, Traivon, Brelyn, Marcellus, and Jessie. When I conferenced with each student yesterday about their TAKS reading score, their first reaction was "YEA" their second was "I want to tell Mr. Franklin!" and their third was to call their moms. All the boys asked if I could get your e-mail address from Dr. Rilling and they asked if they could tell you how well they did. Here are their e-mails to you...

Wuz up Mr. Franklin this is Tray. I passed the reading TAKS like a real “Gâ€. So can you take me, Jessie, and Kamren out for lunch one day? This was surprising and it was my first time passing a reading TAKS in middle school. If you can, we would like you to take us to Mr. Gatti’s Pizza or Golden Coral to celebrate. Remember I’m the tall dude. All I’m asking is for you to do something for the 3 of us.


FROM: KING TRAY (Traivon Edwards)


Dear Mr.Fraklin
What up man how have you been? How is your family? This is Kamren Lemon. I’m the one with the braids. I was just letting you know that I passed the TAKS test for reading. Since we past the TAKS test can you take me Traivon, Jessie, and Brelyn to go eat at Golden Coral or some where else to celebrate if you don’t want eat there. Just think about it and I will talk to you next time you come to our school ok so lata.
My E-mail address is

Peace out yo Boi KAM DA PRINCE (Kamren Lemon)


What are u up to. Me… nothing just chillin my teacher just let me type to u. guess what…? I passed my reading TAKS test like a real “Gâ€. But yea I tried to pass it because u really tried to help by giving us the real talk. But when you come could we do something since me Traivon, Kamren passed the test like take us out to eat or cook us something to eat to celebrate. How have your family been? Well mine been great since I told them about the tests I passed. So yea, come because we don’t have to long to be in middle school so could u come 2 times one week but I will let u go but you could reach me at NICHOLS_JESSIE@YAHOO.COM if u want to talk. Well this is Jessie the one with the braids and beads so yea, e-mail me soon as u get this message ok?  
(Jessie Nichols)



Beth Reynolds
READ 180 Teacher
Covington Middle School



I know that AAMP is supposed to stand for All American Mentoring Project, but to me it means African Americans Moving Persistently.  This program brought many young people like me to talk about sex, jail, and our history.  I realized how valuable I am to the future and to my community. 

AAMP let me know that if you don’t do your best in school or on your job, you could end up in jail.  It taught me how to take responsibility for my actions and not have any excuses for the things that I do in life. I have learned to think about my decisions and the effect that my choices will have on my life and others around me.  I have gained confidence to speak up and stand up for my beliefs and even take leadership positions within the youth department at my church.

It also made me think of the type of man that I want to be once I get into adulthood. It has also made me realize the type of people I want to surround myself with and hang around.

Braylon Sutton

June 22, 2009


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


2006 % of students passing


% of students passing

Gain among African American Students

Comparative gain of All Students at Covington Middle School











Social Studies











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



Results Video