Our Mission

In the spirit of Booker T. Washington, one of America’s great activists for education, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance, this project uses detailed data analysis to uncover what really causes prosperity and its opposite: poverty. The Booker T. Washington Initiative proposes to redefine the debate on poverty, wellbeing, and opportunity, debunking the idea that taxation, government programs, and invasive policy solutions can truly help our nation’s poor to escape their burdens.

“An efficient education system will produce a highly trained, skilled and innovative workforce. These are the essential elements necessary for the development of a free, strong and independent society.”
Booker T. Washington

OUR Staff

Dr. Richard A Johnson III

Richard A. Johnson, Ed.D., is the director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Booker T. Washington Initiative which examines the effects of public policy on African-American communities.

Previously, Johnson served as a chief of staff in both municipal and state governments. As chief of staff for a Houston City Council member, he played a significant role in drafting and navigating policies related to public safety, public works and housing and community development. During the 85th and 86th Texas Legislative Sessions. he served as a chief of staff and a senior policy analyst for a House member and worked on education, public safety, healthcare and workforce development legislation.

An educator for more than 20 years, Johnson has extensive experience in teaching and research. He worked as a research assistant at the University of Texas Mental Science Institute in the early 90s, studying the efficacy of counseling and pharmacological therapy on cocaine and heroin addicts. He began counseling inner-city adolescent males and founded an academy for troubled boys which provided education, discipline and residential substance abuse treatment. In 2007 he began teaching and research in the areas of psychology and academic performance.

A Texas native, he grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward and graduated from Wiley College with a Bachelor’s in history and government. After obtaining his degree, he joined the U.S. Army where he not only obtained the rank of sergeant but also played for the All-Army Basketball Team. Following active duty, Johnson obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology and then a doctoral degree in education administration from Texas Southern University.

Most importantly, Johnson served as the President of the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation for nearly two decades, building more than 20 churches inside of prison walls. In addition, Johnson served as the co-founder and second president of 100 Black Men Metropolitan Houston, vice president of development for 100 Black Men San Antonio and co-chair of the education committee of the NAACP, Houston.