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Meet Frank Crump of Unified Progress International Education (UPI) in Chandler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Crump.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My involvement in the nonprofit sector began in 2003 when I left my family safely in Singapore and returned to the United States to keep a promise of approximately 20 years. My good friend, Jim Brown of Cleveland Browns NFL fame, and I had made a promise to each other, that one day after I became an international businessman, we would work together to help people in need. At the time, I was heading to Singapore to begin my international career. Jim stated, that he would start something “in the grassroots” and he founded the Amer-I-can foundation; which provided life skills training to Los Angeles gang members while helping to broker peace among the local gangs. Amer-I-can’s training and efforts provided many notable success stories.

My joining Amer-I-can as senior vice president made me responsible for the day-to-day operations. I truly enjoyed seeing strong positive life changes with program participants. However, after 11 months of meeting with young gang members and visiting prisons, I had one problem. I realized that we were impacting youth “after” they had joined gangs and “after” they were locked up in jail. I believed, we needed to be “Proactive” and provide all youth with life skills training, especially those who were prone to become gang members and certainly before any might find themselves locked up in jail.

In 2004, I started Unified Progress International (UPI) Education. At UPI, we have developed an award-winning curriculum, which has been taught in high schools as an accredited’ class and as an after’ or ‘during’ -school’ program for middle school students. Our immediate dream is to have our UPI copy-written Life Skills Solutions(TM) curriculum taught within every school in the nation. Our aim is to establish UPI as an internationally recognized nonprofit, sharing our Life Skills Solutions(TM) curriculum and associated programs around the world. Once we have sufficient funding to support our volunteer staff and create key “full-time” paid positions, we will reach our goal and expand our UPI programming to include the sale of income producing ‘on-line’ training for children, youth, “disconnected youth”, parents, teachers and law enforcement.

Our first 14 years have served as our “proven” training ground. We are now primed and seeking necessary funding to enable our move to the next level in making our mark worldwide!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Having started UPI approximately 14 years ago, I must admit, the nonprofit sector provides its fair share of challenges. To put our biggest challenges into three words, the words would be – Funding, Funding, and Funding.

As an entrepreneur, the majority of my life, I’ve gone out to raise investment capital on many occasions. Ultimately, investor(s) and I shared the risk, rewards or losses. I believe finding investment capital for a good project, is much easier than trying to raise funds for a 501(c)3 nonprofit (via donors and/or grants). Ordinarily, one might think otherwise given that most nonprofits provide some sort of a “do good” for people. But in actuality, I find asking for money to help people is like pulling teeth. We are currently seeking funding to bring our part-time, volunteer, Executive Director, Leslie Carpenter, aboard as a “full-time” employee. Leslie has 20 years of experience including work with the Fetzer Institute, the PeaceJam Foundation, and most recently the Children’s Defense Fund. She has a proven track-record and a skill for fundraising which we want to tap on a full-time basis. With Leslie’s support, we recently started working with a fantastic grant writing team, which will strengthen our grant proposals and possibilities for grant funding success.

Long-term, I tell our UPI Associates “we may be a nonprofit but we are going to operate with a for-profit mentality” as we seek ways to become self-sufficient financially. Naturally, we will still look to donors and foundations in financial support of our work, growth, and development but our ultimate goal is to reduce financial dependency through the creation of income-producing enterprises; which will also create jobs and provide opportunities for individuals beyond our programs.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Working strictly with volunteers for 14 years has been daunting. Surviving such a period of time is indicative of the true value of UPI’s work. In conjunction with our work, we have found the added need to organize and bring together likeminded individuals. During September 2016, I called together 36 of Arizona’s business and community individuals/organizations to unite, under the UPI umbrella, with the purpose of strengthening Arizona’s Education, Economic and Civic/Community outreach activities; as related to those individuals and families who have needs but lack a voice. The initial 36, known today as The Constellation, have grown to more than 200 in number. We have undertaken a business approach in addressing such social and economic issues as juvenile justice, education reform, police brutality, lack of inner-city capital, health and food, jobs, career opportunities and more. The Constellation represents a novel approach to long-standing community problems. We believe that working together with elected and appointed officials, we can make Arizona a model State for others to follow.

Fact Sheet (2017)

Unified Progress International Education [UPI]:

Became an IRS registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2004. Donors are entitled to a tax write-off. UPI utilizes donations and “in-kind” resources to provide viable programs to the public.

• Has the highest GuideStar Rating – that of Platinum 2017.

• Along with UPI’s Fifteen (15) Verified Partners we provide community programming which impacts 800+ individuals annually.

• UPI began its Life Skills Solutions™ training in New Haven, CT. Public Schools as an “accredited” school course for 9th grade students 2004/2005.

• UPI serves all middle and high school children and youth especially the underprivileged whom without UPI may never be directed in introspection/understanding of self, leadership, STEAM, higher education, career paths, or extra-curricular school activities. Today’s Youth are Tomorrow’s parents. Our aim now, is to include Early Childhood programing.

• Has trained more than 30 adults as certified UPI Facilitators – in providing UPI Life Skills Solutions™ training programs for school students, teachers, parents, community centers and UPI summer camps.

• Is a registered City of Phoenix (procurePhx) Vendor.

• Was selected by Arizona State Representative Mark Anderson, to help create State House Bill #HR2743 requiring Life Skills training for all Arizona public school students 2006.

• 2006 UPI became an Arizona Department of Education “Preferred Provider” with approval to provide UPI Life Skills Solutions™ training within Arizona Public and Chartered Schools.

• Began youth programming activities with South Phoenix Youth Center (SPYC) 2010. Providing the City of Phoenix Community and the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation with “FREE” UPI Training Services re. Life Skills Solutions™ training, parenting seminars, cultural plays and Summer Leadership Camps for youth and families.

• Partnered with the Washington, DC, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) providing mentorship and UPI Life Skills Solutions™ training at the Steve Harvey Foundation’s Annual Youth Development program, for African-American boys and their single Mom’s from cities across America 2010.

• Partnered with City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation (i.e. South Phoenix Youth Center, Harmon Park Community Center, Harmon Park Library and Camp Colley) in providing (FREE) Summer Leadership Camps for 50 under-served area Teens (14-17 years of age, male/female, African-American, Latino and White, “Free-Lunch School” recipients) 2014 and 2015.

• Is a recipient of the Arizona Department of Education, Character Education Specialty Plate Fund Grant 2015, 2016 and 2017.

• Has received 2015, 2016 and 2017 “Top Rated Nonprofit Award” as awarded by Great Nonprofits.

• During the Summer of 2017 (with two UPI Partners, KomputerEd Tools and Linking Sports & Communities) we conducted two (2) STEM Summer Camp programs. One for 116 students (grades 2-11) conducted at Arizona State University Lattie Coor Building and another for 12 teens at the Golden Gate Community Center. Sponsors included State Farm, The Arizona Community Foundation, The Phoenix AKARAMA Foundation, Arizona State, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, PepsiCo, Intel, SRP, On Semi-Conductor, American Public Works Association Diversity Committee, B Sweets Catering and The Safe Haven Foundation.

For additional information visit

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. I was the middle child of five. My Father, one of the smartest men I’ve ever known, was as truck driver; who eventually achieved his goal of becoming an Owner-Operator. My Mother was a nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital and a member of the world’s first Hospice team. Together, my parent’s raised me and my siblings to be respectful, honest and to “treat others the way you want to be treated”. I was encouraged to be the best that I could be, at every and anything I put my mind too. That mindset has remained with me to this day.

I attended public school and as a 6th grade student was accepted into a highly rated academic program, at Yale University (The Ulysses S. Grant Foundation) – which was designed specifically to teach a handful of top-rated African-American boys Science, English and Math. Three days per week, after-school, I walked to Yale’s Old Campus and in class sizes of 4-6, we were taught by the best of Yale’s students. During the summer, we attended classes 5-days per week, had full access to the campus facilities and were taught by top students from both Yale and Harvard. This went on from my 6th-12th grades and undoubtedly changed the course of my life.

Living in (inner-city) New Haven, I experienced all that a predominantly Black neighborhood has to offer. It was here that I gained my street smarts, my survival skills and my love for my people, my relatives and friends. Inner-feelings, that would serve me well, later in life as I travelled the world understanding different cultures and experiencing extremes in situations from both a personal and business perspective. Street smarts and book knowledge make good bedfellows and I thank God for providing me with a bit of both.

The combination of book knowledge and Street smarts kept me from making bad choices. I certainly had the opportunities to do the wrong things, just as most people but because I knew better, because I was taught that there is more to life than being average, because I had role models and because I wanted to be the best that I could be…despite the many temptations and life threatening dangers that existed in my world, my overall choices kept me safe and fortunately out of harms way.

I was a cub scout at age 7, started playing little league baseball at 8 and played organized football and basketball by age 13. I was a member of both the YMCA and the Boy’s and Girl’s (B&G) Club where I captained their youth basketball teams at age 15 and was named Boy of The Year at the B & G Club. By age 18, I was captain of my Hillhouse High School varsity basketball team – we won the State Title and were ranked Number 2 in the United States. Although we were number two nationally, our team was selected by the Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Ma. And our team photo placed in the Hall of Fame for eternity.

Playing sports was one of the greatest things I could have ever done. As an athlete, one learns to experience winning and loosing. One learns how to bounce back from defeat and to be humble in victory. Athletes learn the value of preparation, hard work, individual commitment and teamwork – all values that best serve one in their daily life. I made sure that my children played sports, as they were growing up. To this day, I tell parents and children alike about the value(s) of learning life lessons through participating in competitive sports.

Like most high school basketball players, I wanted to play professionally and I would have attended a highly touted college for basketball, if I hadn’t been accepted by Franklin and Marshall (F&M) University as a Pre-Med student. F&M is known for its Pre-Med program and being selected for such was an honor I couldn’t pass up. Thus, I put education before sports.

I finished my Pre-Med requirements at F&M in three years instead of the normal four. During the first semester of my junior year, I attended Mysore University located in Mysore, India. There, I conducted an independent study of Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Hindu form of medicine which uses herbs for remedy. Upon returning from India, I was fortunate to interview at Yale, John’s Hopkins and Hahnemann Medical Schools. I was on my way to becoming a doctor, when one little turn resulted in a major change in the course of my life.

During my college semester break, I became a Distributor of Holiday Magic (HM) Cosmetics. Within a matter of weeks, I made more than eight thousand dollars and won a brand new Cadillac in a sales contest. As a twenty year old, you can imagine the way I was feeling. I said, “If they give me the money and the car, they got me!” They gave me both and I drove my brand new gold Cadillac to F&M, picked up my belongings as I dropped out of college. I then, went full-time with HM. HM brought out another side of me; a side that I never knew existed. I learned that I was a natural “salesman” and as Sales became my passion, it ultimately became my profession.

I learned the value of a college degree, while working as a HM Distributor. I ultimately returned to F&M and graduated with a degree in Business with a minor in Religion.

My selling expertise served well, when two friends and I received “start-up” capital to launch a manufacturing company. Responsible for company sales, I negotiated our first contract with RCA and the second with IBM. Eventually, the company became one of America’s Top 100 Black-owned businesses; creating hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in sales. Ultimately, I joined my Mentor’s company, which afforded me international travel, sales and marketing experience. I traveled worldwide, lived in Asia for many years, met Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries; as I managed in-country Sales Reps located in Thailand, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I attained my goal of becoming an international businessman. I started businesses of my own in Singapore providing services throughout Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe.

Starting out as a little boy and now as a man, I still strive to be the best I can be. I still hear the words of my Mother saying, “You have to help people.” I’ve chosen to help our children of the world. To not just know science, english and math but to also know themselves and their neighbors. If they know themselves and all work together, being the best that they can be, they will win championships in the game of life and the world will be much better for it.

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