Foundation gifts north Mpls school new 'creativity lab' after late husband
(FOX 9) - At Franklin Middle School in North Minneapolis Michael Bratsch is a teacher, a mentor and motivator. "Hope for the future gives you power in the present," Bratsch told FOX 9.
Back in 2019, he was on hand to welcome Manuela Testollini to the school. Through her "In a Perfect World Foundation," she gifted the school with the tools to create a new multimedia lab.
At the time she said, "What we're about is really taking kids and having them understand that all kids can change the world, they just need the tools and opportunity to do that."
The donation, she said, was in recognition of the philanthropic legacy of her late ex-husband-Prince.
"He wanted to do education and music and he talked about Paisley Park being an educational institution, and so as much as we can keep that going is really important to me and us as an organization," said Testollini.
From guitars to keyboards, today the lab is a hub of creativity.
"From this process our students have become video editors, video producers. Some have taken an interest in journalism, communications," said Bratsch.
And they are tapping into their talents to inspire change. The group wrote and produced a song called "We Can Do Better" with Emilio Cantu, a seventh grader, saying, "It was so, so much fun."
Angel Williams Gordon and Isaiah Tivis helped write the lyrics. Others, like Tony Daw and Akel Obanner pitched in on the chorus and choreography.
"I’m always nervous when we’re recording or shooting something and when I saw the result I thought ‘wow everything turned out so great,’" said Daw.
"At first, I was scared to do it, but it gave me a lot of confidence to do more videos," Obanner said,
Showcasing their talents, these students say that they want to spread a message of hope as they look to start a new school year on a high note.
"The past few years have been challenging for parents, students and educators all the way across and it feels like we’ve turned the page, and this song gives that fresh feeling like ‘hey this is a new chapter,’" says Bratsch.
The students who took part in the project are part of the Future Boys and Girls Leadership Club. Their video has racked up more than 10,000 views on YouTube.