Aaron Franklin used to lay in bed dreaming about barbecue.
It was on his mind all the time. He started the legendary Franklin Barbecue, located in East Austin, in 2009 with only 28 cents in the bank, working 120-hour weeks sometimes, he says. “It doesn’t take a lot of money to do things in the world. What it takes is commitment. It takes a big dream. There’s no amount of money in the world that is going to replace that want. You just gotta do it,” Franklin says.

Today, the nationally renowned Franklin BBQ commands daily lines around the block where patrons sometimes begin lining up by 5 am. The restaurant grew from a small trailer off I-35 in 2009 to a brick and mortar location on east 11th street today where even President Barack Obama has made a point of stopping by when he was in town. (He didn't have to wait in line, of course.) In 2015, Aaron Franklin was awarded with the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest making him the first barbecue pitmaster to be recognized in any best-chef category in the annual competition considered to be "the Oscars" of the food industry. So, what's the secret to meteoric success in East Austin?

“I would say to EAPrep, the best advice I’ve got is just go for it. Do something that really makes you happy, find something that you want to spend your life on, make a commitment and go for it,” says Franklin. “Don’t let anything get in your way. Don’t let people tell you, you can’t do it. Things will happen when it’s ready to happen.”



Dr. Teresa Granillo grew up with a single mother who did not have an education. "My mom used to tell me that if you don't want this life, go get a college education and I took that advice very seriously," says Dr. Granillo. She went on to receive a Ph. D. in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan. 

Dr. Granillo is currently a professor of Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin and the Director of Con Mi Madre, a non-profit that helps all Latinas achieve a higher education. "My dream is that all students regardless of social class, regardless of skin, regardless of what family they are coming from, they all have the opportunity to pursue a higher education, to get an education, and to have a career that they've always dreamed of." 

The advice she gives all students is "Don't let yourself tell you that you can't do it or don't believe because at the end of the day, the fact that you're crossing that road and going to college and pursuing their education, they're enough," says Dr. Granillo. 


If you think your donation in support of East Austin College Prep doesn't make a difference in the lives of tons of kids, just take a look at this video created in 2015 to thank last year's Amplify Austin donors. The whole neighborhood was dancing in celebration, and with good reason. Thanks to the support of those nice people who cared enough to give, we were able to continue preparing our students for college and career.

The song, "Celebrate," recorded by Pitbull was chosen to honor the artist who, in 2009, was an early supporter of East Austin College Prep when he met with some of our students to congratulate them on their academic performance. As we celebrate our inaugural, graduating, senior class this Spring of 2016, we thank Pitbull and all those who helped us reach this auspicious year. ¡Dale!


Despite having founded of one of the most popular and award-winning craft breweries in Austin, a region with dozens of production breweries and brewpubs, Hops & Grain owner Josh Hare wakes up every morning knowing he's not a professionally trained brewer.

"It's an uphill battle for anyone that wasn't classically trained to be a brewer, but for me I got into this to make a product for community that brings people together," says Josh who moved to East Austin in 2005 when he fell in love with the neighborhood. Since he opened Hops & Grain, Josh has made sustainability and community involvement a priority. Josh struck up a friendship with Hermanos de East Austin founder Jose Velasquez and the brewery has been host to multiple fundraisers for the non-profit. Hops & Grain is also committed to sustainable brewing practices, supporting local, community growers and producers and even donating one percent of the annual revenue to local environmental non-profits.

For those afraid to embark on a dream, Josh recommends embracing your inexperience because, "Chances are you'll find something you really, really love."


Edgar Torres is no stranger to East Austin or the service industry. He grew up around his parent's restaurant, Mi Madre's, an Austin staple on Manor Road for over 25 years. His wife Christina isn't afraid of a challenge. The first in her family to go to college, Christina says no one thought she could do it, but that just drove her harder. When the two of them got together to fulfill their dream of owning a business in the East Austin community, it's no wonder the resulting School House Pub became a neighborhood hit.

Of course, Edgar has experienced his share of business failures. "I never regret opening and closing a restaurant and it's turned into something even better because I believe if I wouldn't have done that, then this would have never happened," Edgar says.

Both Edgar and Christina say that being a self-starter is key to making your dreams come true.

"My advice to EAPrep students and the first graduating class would be to follow your dreams through and then keep going," Christina says. "Every day, make a difference. Make it happen."


Hoover Alexander, owner and chef of the legendary Hoover's Cooking—East Austin's most famous spot for Texas home cooking—sat down to give us some advice about sticking with your dreams. As the owner of a successful restaurant for close to twenty years, he knows something about it.

"Dreaming big is something I've always done and still do," he says. "It took me a long time in my life journey to connect with what's in my heart. I call it the Divine Stirring of the Pudding. How can I make a difference in this East Austin community that I am a product of?"

Hoover began his food service career at the historic Night Hawk restaurant during his college days at the University of Texas. It was there that the founder of Night Hawk, Harry Akin, was the first to integrate the lunch counter in Austin and to advocate for Black and Hispanic employees to work the front of the house, including in management. It's also where Hoover's "Dreams of a Dishwasher" to start his own restaurant first began. Through the years, Hoover honed his culinary skills at fine establishments all over Austin until one day, in 1998, he was ready to open his own place. That's when he returned home to the eastside.

"I'm actually a fifth generation Texan and a native of East Austin. These used to be my stomping grounds," Hoover says. In fact, his restaurant on Manor Road is just a short distance from his childhood home in the neighborhood where he continues to give back, serving up delicious food to his customers, organizing food and wellness programs for the community, and serving on the boards of half a dozen charitable and professional organizations.

"Dreams sometimes take longer than you think at first, but to claim ownership is such a great feeling. To be able to say, not only did I dream it, I did it," Hoover says.


Congratulations to Miranda Gibble who was named the
East Austin College Prep Youth of the Year for 2016 by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Read what they have to say about Miranda:

Miranda Gibble has been a Club member at the Southwest Key II (East Austin College Prep) Club since she was in 7th grade. She is a sophomore and is still very active in Club life. With plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin and enter into the chemical engineering and medical fields, Miranda is confident that the person she is becoming is because of her Boys & Girls Club experience. Miranda is self-motivated, goal-oriented and won’t stop until she reaches the finish line. Literally. This past year Miranda ran a full marathon and is training to run another. This spring, Miranda will work with underprivileged youth during a school trip to Thailand.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area partners with Southwest Key Programs to provide free, quality after school programming for EAPrep students on-campus. It's part of the East Austin Children's Promise initiative from Southwest Key to offer holistic support to our students and their families so that children in the East Austin community are provided with the optimum environment to succeed in life.


When you teach a kid to code, you open them up to a world of opportunity. Especially when that kid comes from a community with a 50% high school drop out rate and unemployment that's three times higher than the rest of the city.

East Austin College Prep's game design curriculum created by Globaloria teaches kids to code their own games from scratch. Kids choose a social issue in which they are interested and build a game about it using math, research, problem solving, critical thinking and other career-building skills.