Ian Franklin is the CEO and president of Project Fighting Chance, a non-profit program founded in 1999 to provide a safe-haven for at-risk youth. Through athletics and a focus on education, the program has served over 4,000 youth since its inception. Among other distinctions, the program sent its first athlete to the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Franklin is currently working with Option House, Inc. to expand Project Phoenix, a boxing-empowerment class for domestic violence survivors.
Q: What is the mission of Project Fighting Chance?
Franklin: Our mission is to provide a support system for the at-risk youth and young adults while assisting them in becoming, positive, contributing members of the community.
Q: You recently partnered with Option House, Inc. to create a class called Project Phoenix. How do you see boxing and your program helping survivors of domestic violence?
Franklin: We will help these participants in a variety of ways. Some things we will be looking to accomplish, using a boxing workout, is to give them a positive stress release outlet, allow them to release anger, frustration, while most importantly developing their self-esteem. As they go through the program they will go from broken victims to overcomers with a high self-esteem.
Q: What are some of the successes you have witnessed as a result of your program, whether it’s in boxing or the classroom or somewhere else?
Franklin: I have trained eight National Champions and two Olympic Trial participants. My son made the ‘08 Olympic team as an alternate. He had the opportunity to live at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a year prior to the ‘08 games, while traveling the world representing the USA in competitions. We currently have two youngsters ranked number one in the US and one ranked number three. But most importantly, we hold these youngsters accountable in grades as well as conduct. Through the years, I've had many grown men, some college graduates, bring their families and children back to share that our program was instrumental in their success.
Q: Your program is best known for boxing, but what other services are you providing for the community?
Franklin: We are aware of the environment we service. San Bernardino is challenged economically. We serve snacks and suppers daily. We have tutoring, art class, chess club, and guitar and music lessons.
Q: How is your program funded? Are there ways for community members to support your program, whether through donations or volunteering?
Franklin: We were funded by the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant). Now we get some funding from the San Bernardino School District, and we are looking to create partnerships that would assist us in the resources that are needed. With the ranked athletes, travel is always a huge expense that we need, as well as a 12-15 seat van.