Exactly 15 years ago, Edward Franklin was handed the keys to Voice of Hope, tasked with harnessing the potential of out-of-school time to serve a generation of West Dallas students through both education and the Gospel.
Mr. Franklin’s story begins in a Philadelphia neighborhood not unlike one you might find in West Dallas. Although he acknowledges the distress and blight in the community he saw on a daily basis, he attributes his own robust childhood to the fact that he was raised by both a mother and a father in the home. Both of his parents modeled the Christan faith and high educational attainment, setting a standard for him that was not mirrored by most in his surroundings. “I grew up in an underserved community and lived around folks like those I serve and live alongside now,” he shares. “I can identify with many of the hopes, dreams, concerns and fears they have."
After earning two Master’s Degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, Mr. Franklin worked as a Behavior Specialist and Mobile Therapist for children. He was praying and planning to plant a church in his home neighborhood - that is, until a “214” phone number rang and asked him to consider moving to Dallas, Texas. The invitation was to enter in to what God was doing with a ministry in an underserved part of town called West Dallas. He, his wife, and their one-week-old daughter, Hannah, accepted the invitation and on August 31st, 2004, Mr. Franklin began serving as Voice of Hope’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Now serving over 300 students in three locations in three cities in Dallas County, Mr. Franklin and his team have spent the last fifteen years learning and serving in the community, perfecting their ASPIRE after-school and SOAR summer camp programs. “When the school bell rings, we have an opportunity to come alongside the school, the parent, and the community to reinforce what happens in the school day and prevent summer learning loss,” Mr. Franklin shares. He cites curriculum, school partnership, and parent support as the best targets for innovation. “Our ASPIRE after-school curriculum must be customized and contextual for it to resonate with our children,” he explains. Within the public school space, Voice of Hope seeks to walk alongside the school as an extended learning partner. He also lauds parents for their irreplaceable role in a child’s academic and spiritual development and is continually finding ways to support the family unit.
There is much more to be done in the next fifteen years and beyond. How will Voice of Hope prepare today’s young students for 2035? “The jobs of tomorrow will not look like the jobs of today,” Mr. Franklin forecasts. Voice of Hope aims to instill fundamental skills around social emotional learning, critical thinking, and team building. Most of all, the staff, teachers, and volunteers of Voice of Hope are teaching students to value education.
Just like the students of Voice of Hope, Edward Franklin is on his own journey of learning. He is completing his Doctor of Ministry degree from Knox Theological Seminary and has been accepted to participate in the National After School Matters Fellowship, Leadership Dallas, and the Christian Community Development Leadership Cohort 8. In his words,
He extends a heartfelt thank-you to the donors who have supported Voice of Hope for the last fifteen years and even the 37 years that Voice of Hope’s doors have been open. He declares, “We cannot do what we do without faithful folks who believe in what we are doing in the community and in the lives of children and their families."
In celebration of fifteen years, we look to another fifteen years and invite you to help galvanize the future.
$15 per day provides the monthly ASPIRE curriculum materials (pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) needed for 300 after-school students.
$150 per week provides food for the children in our Early Childhood Education and Care program.
$1,500 per month provides a 77-passenger bus to transport 150 students from school to Voice of Hope daily.
$15,000 per year provides competitive compensation for one part-time Program Associate for an academic year (10 months).
Stories of Hope
Voice of Hope is proud to share a series of stories through this year that will tell the history of Voice of Hope and what a tremendous impact your support has had in the community and so many lives.