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Chicago's Elected Official

Donzell “Coach TuTu” Franklin


Born at Jackson Park Hospital on Chicago’s South East side to Yvonne and Dwight Franklin. A few days before my 12th birthday I witnessed the death of his father quickly, changing the trajectory of my childhood. In search for ways to fill the void of not having a father, I turned to the streets, gangs and drugs ultimately leading to an 8th grade expulsion and arrest. After 3 different high schools, two different Aunties taking custody of me, I managed to graduate with honors. I’ll never forget my first day at my 3rd high was my junior year and o my very first day of school I was pulled into the Dean’s office and told “We know you are a gang member, we know your history and that you are a bad influence on our schools culture, we didn’t want to accept you but we had to and you have one foot in and one foot out! Because I was at point of in my life that I was trying my best to do better and use my leadership qualities in a more positive manner, this conversation was heart breaking. That was the day I made a decision that I would prove everyone wrong and began taking control of my own destiny. Two months after having this conversation I led the football team to state of Illinois semi- Finals for the first time in school history, as the quarter back and free safety. Before graduating with a 4.0 g.p.a. became the first graduate to place in state tournament for wrestling. Earning a full scholarship to Tuskegee University walking in the footsteps of Booker T Washington, George Washington Carver and the Infamous Tuskegee Airmen. While in college I won a HBCU National Football Championship, started my own entertainment company, was selected to represent the United Sates HBCU’s at the Global Leadership Academy at The University of The Virgin Islands. Within 4 years I graduated cum late College with double majors in Political Science and business administration.  

So, after college I was accepted into DePaul Law, but decided I wanted to take a break from school and venture into the business world.  So, I taught myself how to sew and paint cars and with in 15 months of graduating college I opened up ON Da Grind Custom Car Shop, and within two years I had my own franchise with 3 locations. At this point in my life I begin to understand how powerful, my testimony had become and wanted to find a platform to give back to youth in my community. At the age 25 became the Dean of students at one of the lowest performing schools on the South Side of Chicago. Curtis Elementary School was so infested with Guns, Drugs and Gang activity the city was voting to close it down. Promoted to Assistant Principal, I began to think more outside the box, focus more on mentoring, addressing traumas, peace circle and restorative practices. Sitting on numerous panels, partnering with CPD to host annual mentoring events and leading behavioral health team became my way of reforming urban education. Inspired the hundreds of youth that I have coached and mentored, I started my non for-profit organization The Our Kids Count Foundation, allowing me to expand my platform touching the lives of thousands of youth and training many organizations on trauma informed care. Also stepping into the role of Head Coach and Vice President of the University Park Lions Program a Football and Cheer program that has been in existence since 1979 in Chicago’s Southland. UPYAA has allowed me to coach and mentor well over 1000 youth and provide constructive activities in the community to serve as my “anti-drug and anti-gang” initiative.

A decorated coach with 113 wins 17 loses, 5 Superbowl appearances, two Superbowl championships, two National championship appearances and one national title. Also, Under UPYAA I have started the Uptown Wrestling club producing 17 state finalist and 3 nationally ranked wrestlers in 4 years. Also Coaching basketball and baseball in the community, I have built a lifestyle of giving back. All this is awesome but still not enough! Still hungry I enrolled in school to get my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, graduating once again cum late and enrolled in PHD program. I began to explore opportunities how I can become a change agent for not just schools, organizations and communities but because I am “unstoppable” I believe I can help change the world.  So, on May 13th 2019 I was sworn in as a State of Illinois Elected Official. So essentially, I went from a law breaker to a law maker!!! Because I continued to thank God and ask God to upgrade my testimony, never gave up, never became satisfied or continent and declared myself unstoppable. 

Now a Husband and Father of three beautiful children I am excited about joining the TAK and looking forward to having a Global inpact!