Who We Are

How the Parents Political University Began:
The June 17, 2014 Meeting at the Austin Voice

The idea for the Parents Political University took shape at a meeting held June 17 at the office of The Austin Voice Newspaper.
Present were Brad Cummings and Isaac Jones of The Austin Voice, Principal Ken Hunter of Prosser Career Academy in Austin, Steve Sewall of Chicago Civic Media and State Representative La Shawn K Ford and several members of the newspaper's staff.

The meeting was called to discuss The Austin Compact: Looking Back from 2015, a five page proposal for a ten year development plan for Austin written by Sewall and inspired by suggestions from Harvard sociology professor Felton Earls, M.D. Dr Earls was the lead investigator of Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), a
ten-year, $51 million study - the largest of its kind every undertaken - which Harvard Professor Robert Sampson chronicled in Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect.
  • The Austin Compact challenges Austin to transform and reinvent itself within ten years by making use of two historically neglected resources for community growth: young people and media.
  • This unpublished Feb. 2014 4,000 word article by Steve Sewall assesses the Chicago Tribune's New Plan of Chicago and makes a case for community and citywide approaches to youth violence grounded in new, problem-solving uses of media and the empowerment of young people.
  • Rep. Ford's suggestion that Austin begin its transformation by first organizing its parents, not students, met with the support of the group and was later incorporated in the name, Parents Political University
  • Initial PPU meetings have focused on meeting the needs of Austin's young people.