FIVE FOUNDATIONS TEAM UP TO HELP REGIONAL PARTNERS ADDRESS CHALLENGES FACING STUDENTS IN THE GULF COAST
Groundbreaking collaboration between community colleges and universities aims to close equity gaps in student success
HOUSTON, TEXAS: The unsettling events of the past year have illuminated the daily challenges facing many of the students and communities in the Gulf Coast-Houston region. The impact of COVID-19 and the events surrounding the death of George Floyd exposed the heightened uncertainty and vulnerability facing many students, as well as the difficulties many experience in meeting basic living needs and accessing critical educational resources.
The University of Houston (UH) has been awarded $900,000 in grants to launch the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) equity initiative — “Equity Walk: Building a Postsecondary Blueprint for Equity in the Texas Gulf Coast Region.” This new initiative will help institutions go from just talking about the barriers that lead to inequitable student outcomes to taking actions aimed at dismantling those barriers.
The grants include $300,000 from Greater Texas Foundation, $200,000 each from Houston Endowment and Trellis Foundation, and $100,000 each from The Kresge Foundation and The Powell Foundation.
The Houston GPS Equity Walk initiative will drive changes in policies and practices that benefit students immediately and have a sustained impact. This initiative will also align the expertise of administrators, faculty and staff with the critical competencies, and data and information needed to advance more equitable outcomes throughout the region.
Houston GPS is a collaboration among public postsecondary institutions in the Gulf Coast-Houston region. Partners work together to systematically redesign and implement comprehensive, integrated strategies that increase student retention, graduation and other indicators of student success. Institutions participating in the Equity Walk initiative include: Alvin Community College, Galveston College, Houston Community College System, Lone Star College System, San Jacinto College District, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown and University of Houston-Victoria.
Houston GPS partners serve more than 275,000 undergraduate students including more than 50,000 African American students, 90,000 Hispanic students, and 80,000 Pell-eligible students.
“With nearly 25 percent of Texas’s total population located in this region, ensuring that more people in the Gulf Coast have the opportunity to complete college is crucial to fostering economic growth in the region and the state,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH System senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“Now more than ever, we need a system that empowers all young people, especially those who historically have been marginalized, to achieve their education and career goals. This initiative presents a tremendous opportunity to substantially close equity gaps and increase college degree attainment in the region,” said Sue McMillin, president and CEO, Greater Texas Foundation.
Currently, disparities in college-readiness, enrollment and completion reinforce socioeconomic gaps within the region, particularly for African American, Hispanic and students living with low incomes. The Houston area ranks 34th among the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. for the percentage of the population aged 25 and older holding a college degree (U.S. Census Bureau. ACS, 2009-2011).
Through this initiative, partners will survey student perceptions of campus climate, implement visionary action plans to drive change, and cultivate and strengthen relationships to advance more equitable outcomes at Houston GPS institutions and in the Gulf Coast region. Solutions will be data-driven and long-lasting, ensuring equitable transfer pathways for students and helping new and continuing students recover from the inequities created and exacerbated by COVID-19.
“It is critical to move forward, and postsecondary education must assume a leadership role, moving beyond talk to action,” said Short. “Houston GPS is taking action to accomplish real change that impacts the success of our students and our communities.”
Houston Guided Pathways to Success Mission Statement
Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) is a multi-institutional partnership in the Gulf Coast-Houston metro region focused on the implementation and scale of an integrated system of proven strategies designed to significantly improve college transfer and completion rates and substantially narrow postsecondary attainment gaps. For more about Houston GPS, visit www.uh.edu/provost/university/houstongps/people/.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter for excellence in undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city and one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse regions in the country, UH is a federally designated Hispanic- and Asian-American-Serving institution with enrollment of more than 47,000 students. For more about University of Houston, visit www.uh.edu.
About Greater Texas Foundation
Greater Texas Foundation supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete a postsecondary education. Since its 2001 inception, GTF has approved more than $90 million in grants to support Texas students. For more about Greater Texas Foundation, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.
About Houston Endowment
Established in 1937, Houston Endowment advances equity of opportunity for the people of Greater Houston and enhances the vibrancy of our community so that our region and its people thrive. Since inception, the Endowment has granted more than $2 billion to the area in support of our community and advancing our mission and has awarded $80 million in 2020. Visit houstonendowment.org
About Trellis Foundation
Founded by Trellis Company in 2018, Trellis Foundation is a grantmaking public charity that supports postsecondary access, affordability, and completion for low- and moderate-income students. For more about Trellis Foundation, visit www.trellisfoundation.org.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more about The Kresge Foundation, visit kresge.org.
About The Powell Foundation
The Powell Foundation is a private, family foundation based in Houston, Texas and is primarily focused on realizing impact within Harris, Travis and Walker Counties (Texas). The Foundation supports initiatives designed to enhance the quality of life of residents within these communities and focuses its giving in the areas of education, the arts, conservation and human services. For more about The Powell Foundation, visit www.powellfoundation.org.