The University of Houston has expanded its pursuit of excellence with an eye towards making an impact on nearby neighborhoods. One aspect of the University’s neighborhood initiative is focused on empowering and revitalizing the historic Third Ward. For two years, UH has met with community leaders to identify the neighborhood’s greatest needs and assess how UH might most effectively help the neighborhood improve itself.

“Our students, staff and faculty have been volunteering their time and talent to support many organizations in the community,” UH President Renu Khator said. “So, the purpose of this initiative is not to add more but to be focused, strategic and impactful so that the needle can move.”

UH’s efforts in the Third Ward cover four major areas—education, economic empowerment, health and the arts—each with clear objectives and operational measures.

education

Goal: Provide targeted academic and psycho-social programing through service learning to improve Third Ward Schools

  • The UH College of Education has partnered with the Houston Independent School District to improve academic ratings at six third Ward schools.
  • Involvement includes funding 20 counselors over two years through a grant, to provide mentoring, tutoring, and counseling, and placing 60 Teach Forward undergraduates in four elementary schools to engage with students in one-on-one lessons.
economic
empowerment

Goal: Establish 25 new businesses in the next five years by providing financial training and business mentorship for potential entrepreneurs

  • Training is offered through the Bauer College of Business Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship (SURE TM) program. Participants are recommended by the Emancipation Economic Development Council.
  • Partnership with Project Row Houses in a pilot program to train and find employment for single mothers.
arts

Goal: Establish the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts - Project Row Houses Fellowships to build a cohort of next generation leaders in socially engaged art

  • In 2016-17, two visiting PRH fellows are primarily funded through a $100,000 multi-year lead gift.
  • Fellows will complete creative and applied projects using people-based and arts-integrated approaches to community development.
health

Goal: Partner with community-based organizations to reduce the incidence of obesity through prevention and family treatment

  • 2,000 individuals will receive prevention services each year; 800 people will receive treatment interventions over the next three years.
  • Train community members to detect early signs of potential mental illness; mental health was the biggest health issue identified by Third Ward leaders.