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What the community is Saying


“I witnessed Franklin’s merits when he was a high school student. He was early for every workshop and was the last to leave. He exhausted his mentors with question after question. He led other students through his musicality, personality and work ethic. He recognizes and believes in the life-changing power of arts education. And he fully understands the saying that ‘charity begins at home, and spreads abroad.”

-Orbert Davis
CEO, Discover Music Discover Life

Artistic Director / Conductor / Composer-in-Residence, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

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”Franklin Vanderbilt is more than just a human-being. He is a human-doing. He is an example of how to take on life’s challenges. If there’s a mountain to climb, he will not only climb it; he seeks to  inspire and invite others to put on their mountain climbing shoes. Franklin has a grand humility about him. By that I mean that he is a charismatic personality, matched by a genuine authentic desire to give back, or pay it forward for his community and not be concerned with who might get the credit.”


-Dennis Quaid

Actor and Musician

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“Franklin has a powerful passion for music, which is very clear from the many years we have spent touring and performing together. I also know he has great love for his hometown Chicago, and this project is a fitting intersection of the two - and a perfect way to inspire the next generation of performers.”


-Lenny Kravitz

Musician & Actor


“Franklin Vanderbilt lights up a room when he walks in and brings energy to any situation. I've been lucky enough to record an album with him recently at my studio and it’s coming out great!  He's told me about the Chicago Academy of Performing Arts project, and I know he’ll make it happen. He really wants to give back to the area he grew up in.”




-Robby Krieger

Guitarist, The Doors

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"During Franklin's time at Eastern Illinois University as a percussion major, he had the positive attitude, enthusiasm, dedication, commitment, and creativity to move forward in the field of percussion. He was focused and had the drive to succeed. He is still that way today.”


-Professor Johnny Lee Lane

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”As a student at Schurz High School music academy, Franklin exhibited many wonderful traits including mastery of theory, music history and performance on all aspects of his chosen percussion instruments and drum set. As a performing faculty group we could always depend on Franklin's performance on drums to elevate our performance to a high degree. Franklin's personality always drew the best out of both students and faculty alike."

-Anthony Pons
retired music director Carl Schurz High School music academy

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”Franklin’s intense commitment to Chicago’s West Side is not only is critical. The city needs more people like him to stop talking and start doing, so that we can enhance our communities with opportunities and inspiration.”


-Antonio Romanucci

Civil rights and personal injury attorney and Founding Partner, Romanucci & Blandin, LLC

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"West Garfield Park is a community with incredible residents deserving of a greater level of economic and educational opportunities. I am supportive of the Franklin Vanderbilt Academy of Performing Arts project to redevelop the site of Nathan Goldblatt Elementary School, which will restore that location to its former vibrant role in the community, provide inspiration to children and give positive energy to 28th Ward residents."


- Alderman Jason C. Ervin, 28th Ward

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"Our city and state need more people like Franklin Vanderbilt, who are willing to do the hard work and put themselves on the line to make our community better. The West Garfield Park neighborhood is deserving of educational programs like those that will be provided by the Franklin Vanderbilt Academy of Performing Arts, and I look forward to working alongside the Academy team to move this forward."


-Illinois State Representative Jawaharial Williams
D-10th District

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"As the State Senator who represents West Garfield Park and a proud and long-time resident of the West Side, I enthusiastically endorse the work of Franklin Vanderbilt to bring performing arts and financial education to the children along with economic invigoration to the neighborhood. I share Franklin's vision for a bright future for residents and a platform for the world to see and enjoy the talent of the next generation."


-Patricia Van Pelt

Illinois State Senator

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"We feel passionately about providing quality music education, inspiration and opportunities for all students in every community. We are proud to partner with Franklin's team in a variety of ways as this project becomes a reality."

-Steve Zapf
CEO, Conn-Selmer
Leading American manufacturer and distributor
of musical instruments

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"One of my best memories growing up in the projects was watching my mother teaching other kids how to play the piano and ukulele. Music gives hope and it allows us to express God’s gifts”


-Rusty Breese, CEO, Score Navigator

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‘As a fellow native Chicagoan, I’m thrilled to be a part of Franklin’s team. His legendary accomplishments speak for themselves from everyone he has worked with or met. His charisma and “get it done with no excuses” mindset are  an example for all to follow. Like Franklin, I’m all about paying it forward and have been blessed to see hard work pay off. Chicago youth have both unlimited and untapped potential that will be realized through Franklin’s programs as they become our leaders of tomorrow.”


-Lt Col Tom “T-Mac” Mackie

  U.S. Marine Corps retired

  F/A-18 Hornet Fighter Pilot

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. As a great philosopher once said, I strongly believe in the power of music. Music has a significant influence on the building of human character, especially for children.  Franklin Vanderbilt is a passionate musician and a person of integrity who gives us a great opportunity to make this world a better place through his performing arts school project. Let’s take this first step together to make the project a success.”

-Kaz Kobayashi, Executive Producer, NOSCO USA, Inc.

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