Keeping the Promise: Errol Franklin

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From an early age, Errol Franklin and his four older sisters have learned the value of discipline, hard work and family in their Harlem home. Television, computer games and other distractions are off limits during the week, and allowed on weekends only after homework is completed. The family sits down for dinner together every night, sharing progress, laughter and home-cooked meals.

These lessons have served Errol and his siblings well growing up. They were also reinforced at Errol’s second home, The Children’s Aid Society’s Milbank Center. For six years, he participated in Milbank’s after-school program, which helped keep him focused on school and gave his parents peace of mind that he was in good hands once the school day was over.

It was through Milbank’s Carmel Hill Project—a community revitalization project undertaken by Children’s Aid and a private philanthropist—that Errol’s academic promise was noticed, and his hard work rewarded.

A studious and courteous young man, Errol won a scholarship through the project to attend Harlem’s St. Paul School at no cost. By the school’s estimate, over 60 percent of families in the neighborhood live far below the poverty level. And, in fact, tuition would have been out of reach for Errol’s hardworking parents. His father is a mechanic’s assistant and his mother is a school bus aide.

According to Carmel Hill Project Director Ann Hamm, Errol got nothing but glowing reviews from his teachers at St. Paul.  He stayed dedicated to his studies, participated in science fairs and modeled modesty and inquisitiveness for his peers and students in lower grades.

Last June, he was chosen as valedictorian of his eighth grade class from a very competitive field.

In his speech, Errol credited his sponsors at Children’s Aid, his parents and his teachers whose “hard work and dedication” have contributed to his success. He urged his classmates to work harder in the face of adversity and to “never wither under pressure, but to rise above it.”

Today, Errol is a freshman at the prestigious Cardinal Hayes High School. His tuition is paid in part by a scholarship and in part by Carmel Hill. Errol is excelling at English and French while pursuing his interest in science through a biology class.

“He has a 97.5 average,” Hamm reports, having recently reviewed his latest report card.

“Oh, my Errol,” she says proudly. “He is so kind and generous. And he is a true scholar.”