Austin Martin '13 | Social Changemaker / Hip-Hop Connoisseur
Austin Martin ‘13 comes from a dichotomy of backgrounds. His parents grew up in an urban neighborhood in Detroit, where they triumphed within an underserved school district and both received college degrees. After starting their family in San Diego, they decided to send Austin to Francis Parker School, understanding first-hand the importance of a top-tier education.
Austin describes continuously feeling connected to urban culture, which led to an intersection of identities: “I’ve always loved hip-hop music—the lyrics resonated with me from a young age—but I also recognized my privilege growing up in a place like San Diego,” he said.
Because of Parker’s strong focus on community service, Austin joined (and started) a multitude of socially-aimed clubs. “There was space here [at Parker] to discover what you’re really passionate about—and resources available to help your club meet its goals.”
The summer of high school graduation, Austin found a way to merge his deep love for hip-hop with his mission to make a positive social impact: a nonprofit startup called Rhymes with Reason, which uses techniques and lyrics in rap music to help enrich students’ vocabularies.
“It started off as a weird hobby,” Austin said. “I wanted to see how many SAT vocabulary words you could find in contemporary hip-hop music—I found that 70 out of the top 100 SAT words were appearing in music I was listening to everyday. I knew something powerful could come out of that.”
Three summers ago Austin had the chance to run the pilot version of the program in Detroit, the city which held so much of his family’s story. There, he saw the incredible potential for Rhymes with Reason. “We were teaching this group of students who were really struggling,” Austin explains. “Within an hour, they had learned 15 new SAT words—and they couldn’t get enough. They didn’t want their session to end, and were asking to do more research afterwards. To grab these students’ attention in such a big way, I realized: I have a responsibility to take this program as far as I possibly can.”
After his recent graduation from Brown University, Austin is diving into Rhymes with Reason full-time. This fall, he’s releasing the first “teacher’s starter pack,” a web-based app and workbook that will be accessible to private, public, and charter school educators. To learn more, visit rhymeswithreason.co.
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.