Skip to main content

Our Current Work


The UH Advancing Community Engagement and Service Institute works to partner with Houston-area schools and organizations to enhance student learning through evidence-based programming and support. Our core initiative, known as Cougar Tutors, provides UH students with experiential learning opportunities while also supporting the community. Since its inception, the ACES Institute has prioritized supporting underserved schools in the Third Ward area and has expanded to East End, Gulfton and Alief.

Cougar Tutors 

The ACES Institute launched the Cougar Tutor initiative in 2017 as part of UH's Third Ward Initiative. Cougar Tutors are UH students hired and trained to serve as academic coaches and mentors to students in underserved schools in the Greater Houston area. The tutors work 12 to 15 hours weekly during the academic year, providing individualized support in classrooms while forming invaluable relationships with their students.

Cougar Tutors are assigned to one of multiple grant-funded programs:

Third Ward Literacy

Our Third Ward Literacy program supports underserved elementary schools in the Third Ward area near UH. Cougar Tutors serve as literacy coaches and mentors to students, providing individualized or small group instruction to build vocabulary, fluency, reading comprehension and other reading skills. The goal is to ensure that students are reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade.

Cougar Literacy Corps

The Cougar Literacy Corps supports emergent bilingual students in the Greater Houston area. Cougar Tutors in the corps are bilingual UH students trained in evidence-based practices in English as a Second Language (ESL)/or Spanish-language instructional strategies. The goal is to provide equal academic support in English and a student’s native language.

Middle School Postsecondary Readiness Project

The Middle School Postsecondary Readiness Project supports school-identified at-risk middle school students who need additional support in STEM. Cougar Tutors in this program are selected based on their major and experience and receive a curriculum to guide their lessons. The goal is to support high school graduation by providing middle school students with additional academic support and career exploration experiences.

Our Past Work

Advanced Placement Cougar Tutors

In the 2022-23 school year, Cougar Tutors served to advance college readiness in Houston Independent School District high schools by tutoring students in AP courses. AP Cougar Tutors were UH students who excelled in their high school AP courses and demonstrated the ability to tutor college-level courses.

IGNITE/Project Explore

In the 2022-23 school year, Cougar Tutors served to advance college readiness in Houston ISD middle schools and high schools by providing individualized support to school-identified students part of IGNITE and Project Explore, two programs aimed at increasing college and career readiness.