Our partners are vital to the success of the Community Bridges program.

Below is additional information about the partners we work with, as well as examples of the kinds of projects the Community Bridges Fellows have completed as part of their Community Bridges experience.

Air Alliance

Air Alliance believes the quality of our air directly affects our quality of lives, and through research, education and advocacy, it empowers Houstonians to take charge of their health and environment. Air Alliance’s initiatives include research efforts related to Houston’s greatest air pollution challenges and the improvement of public health, programs that give environmental organizations and green businesses a forum to share their work and knowledge with the public, the dissemination tools and resources about Houston air quality to community groups, and advocacy for policies that promote health and clean air. Air Alliance has projects and programs in the Fifth Ward, East End, and Third Ward.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Aurora Kesler investigated the community’s involvement in the North Houston Highway Improvement Project by researching how to engage communities in Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), conducting workshops with community members affected by the highway expansion, visualizing the lived impact of the highway expansion and providing recommendations to Air Alliance about how to improve future HIA processes.

2018-2019 Fellow Allison Yelvington authored a report that examined the land use regulations at the city, county and state levels that can be used to make a case for transportation planning projects that emphasize a shift away from personal vehicles and toward walking, cycling and public transit. She also researched examples of Health Impact Assessments from other parts of the country that have been used to advocate for forms of transportation that reduce air pollution. Air Alliance Houston will use this report to inform its advocacy efforts around the I-45 highway expansion.

2017-2018 Fellow Kathy Le collected data on air quality in Pasadena, drafted an anti-idling ordinance for the city using data and analysis of other ordinances in California and Minnesota, and generated informative presentations for schools and communities to emphasize the importance of monitoring air quality and to provide an action plan. 

Avenue CDC

Avenue CDC’s overarching mission is to build affordable homes and strengthen communities. The organization believes that the state of one’s home has a powerful impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing—zip code, as much as income level or genetic code, is one of the most powerful determinants of life expectancy and other health outcomes. Therefore, Avenue seeks to improve the lives of Houstonians by investing in neighborhoods. Using a place-based approach, it works directly with residents to identify needs, develop consensus around a vision for the future, and create action plans. Avenue builds affordable housing, provides education and counseling to help families build wealth and supports communities in achieving goals in education, infrastructure, public safety, health and more.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Bharathi examined the spatial concentration of existing resources, opportunities, coming investments and data plans provided by Avenue CDC and its partners. Bharathi used ArcGIS to identify and map the locations of existing resources in the Near Northside neighborhood and, in turn, to bring attention to gaps in services across Avenue CDC’s constituent communities. Through her visual analysis of Avenue CDC’s program-related data, Bharathi pin-pointed areas in which there are disproportionate shares of “resource brokers” and spaces that are lacking in basic social services. Avenue CDC plans to use Bharathi’s research product in future decision making.

BakerRipley

BakerRipley connects low-income families and individuals to opportunity so that they can achieve the life they've imagined. It's the reason why BakerRipley exists, and it's something that hasn't changed since 1907. BakerRipley believes that its neighborhoods are bridges to opportunity, that people can transform communities, and that everyone everywhere has something to contribute. Students placed at BakerRipley work mostly at the organization’s main office and occasionally at one of the various community centers.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Xingyi Li completed BakerRipley’s ‘The State of East Aldine’ report which investigates the gaps in services and community strength in East Aldine. She identified active civic service providers, reached out to send surveys, conducted eight interviews with key organizations and synthesized findings to provide seven suggestions for future community development in the area.

2017-2018 Fellow Maishara Muquith conducted a needs assessment in six communities in which BakerRipley operates in order to generate information about the health and wellness needs of said communities and to make recommendations for future interventions and programs.  

2017-2018 Fellow Thresa Skeslien-Jenkins researched best practices for intergenerational programs, conducted focus groups and needs assessments with seniors and youth in each BakerRipley community, and made recommendations for intergenerational program development and evaluation.  

Covenant Community Capital

Covenant Community Capital seeks to enhance the beauty, safety and economic vitality of low-income communities by increasing their capacity to develop affordable housing, grow business enterprises, and build community and family assets. The organization oversees a variety of critical programs that work to reduce poverty in the Fifth Ward, including the Smart-Savings Program, financial literacy classes, and several affordable housing developments. Since its establishment, Covenant Community Capital has helped over 250 families purchase homes in their communities – a positive step towards breaking the cycle of poverty. Students in this placement focus their work in the Fifth Ward.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Kate Landry created and administered a survey that targeted the organization’s database of low-income working families that are pursuing a home purchase. Using this tool, Kate helped Covenant to determine clients’ preferences and priorities related to neighborhoods, home features and area amenities and shed light on what factors might entice them to reside in the Fifth Ward, Denver Harbor or East End. This information will allow Covenant to help participants find existing homes that meet their needs and advocate for the development of affordable housing that more effectively serves the needs of clients.

2018-2019 Fellow Emma He analyzed the needs of residents in Camilla, Texas, a rural, flood-prone community in the Greater Houston region that was gravely affected by Hurricane Harvey. She researched the intersection of rural poverty and disaster vulnerability by examining basic needs assessment frameworks and analyzing intake forms and interviews that have been collected from residents over the past two years. Using her findings, Emma identified and connected with local Houston organizations that might extend their services to San Jacinto County to meet the needs of struggling residents.

2018-2019 Fellow Xingyi Li completed BakerRipley’s ‘The State of East Aldine’ report which investigates the gaps in services and community strength in East Aldine. She identified active civic service providers, reached out to send surveys, conducted eight interviews with key organizations and synthesized findings to provide seven suggestions for future community development in the area.

2017-2018 Fellow Isabela Walkin identified properties in the Fifth Ward that might be purchased in order to increase homeownership rates in the region. She created an interactive map of such properties and provided recommendations for future steps and collaboration with organizations pursuing similar work.

2015-2016 Fellow Jiao Sun researched state and local regulations as well as best practices for creating a vehicle donation program that would provide affordable vehicles to neighborhood residents. 

2014-2015 Fellows Meredith Bouchein, Danya Kachkou, and Jesal Shah researched the success and failure rates of homeownership amongst clients using various environmental, socioeconomic and demographic factors.

2012-2013 Fellows Naomi Fa-Kaji, Kanwal Hooda and Virginia White collected data from the Harris County Appraisal District and created a database of Finnigan Park properties. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), they mapped senior residents in the neighborhood that the agency serves.

Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation

The Fifth Ward CRC is a catalytic organization dedicated to the collaborative fostering of holistic community development. Its vision centers on sustaining and building the Fifth Ward as a beautiful place to live, work, and play. The Fifth Ward CRC coordinates a variety of programs to fulfill its mission, including real estate development, homeownership promotion and preservation, asset management, and community and supportive services. Notably, this past year, Starbucks Coffee Company partnered with the Fifth Ward CRC to provide thousands of volunteers to the community. Students in this placement focus their work in the Fifth Ward.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Ginger Hooper used data to measure changes and visualize growth in the Fifth Ward. She quantified the demographic, educational, and economic trends and analyzed the juvenile justice and health conditions in this community. She identified areas most in need of attention from Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and established a baseline against which to measure future community development progress.                          

2018-2019 Fellow Jennifer Fu wrote a research report that established and examined baseline indicators that can be used to track the progress and impact of Fifth Ward CRC’s new juvenile justice diversion program. These included measures related to educational achievement, recidivism, public safety, economic opportunity, physical and mental health, etc.

2017-2018 Fellow Yves Ye conducted short interview surveys with members of the Fifth Ward community during the neighborhood’s largest event, the Lyons Avenue Renaissance Festival. Using this tool, Ye gathered data about the community’s perceptions of progress, safety, and needed improvements and then made recommendations to Fifth Ward CRC based on his findings.

2016-2017 Fellow Gillian Perkins did a three-month study of Fifth Ward businesses on the climate for small businesses in the Fifth Ward and identified the areas where small businesses in need the most support. She worked with Fifth Ward CRC staff and local businesses to support the creation of a Fifth Ward business association.

2015-2016 Fellows Caroline Brigham and Rachel Galton designed and implemented a survey to identify how the Fifth Ward CRC and Buffalo Bayou Partnership could combine efforts to connect the Fifth Ward community to Buffalo Bayou.

2013-2014 Fellow Daniel Cohen surveyed participants of a housing fair on homeownership and different socioeconomic and demographic factors.

Girls Empowerment Network

The mission of Girls Empowerment Network (GIRLS) is to “ignite the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable.” GIRLS provides an array of programs that teach self-efficacy, which is a girl’s belief in her ability to succeed. These include: GIRLS’ summer day camp, which serves girls in grades 3-8; the We Are Girls Conference, a statewide, multi-city event designed especially for girls in grades 3-8 and the adults who care about them; Girl Connect, a school-based program for girls in grades 3-12 that uses a self-efficacy curriculum to build skills that help girls discover their power; and the Pathfinder Leadership Summit, a development program aimed at giving 9th-12th grade girls a head start on their road to independence, college and career.

GIRLS is a new partner for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Legacy Community Health

As a full-service, Federally Qualified Health Center, Legacy identifies unmet needs and gaps in health-related services and develops client-centered programs to address those needs. A United Way-affiliated agency since 1990, it currently provides adult primary care, pediatrics, dental care, vision services, behavioral health services, OB/GYN and maternity, vaccinations and immunizations, health promotion and community outreach, wellness and nutrition, and comprehensive HIV/AIDS care.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Anu Dwarumpudi assessed the effectiveness of the Client Assistance Program, a collaboration between Legacy and the Houston Food Bank that provides food insecurity services to Legacy’s patient population. By conducting interviews and collecting data from various programs at Legacy, Anu generated qualitative and quantitative results that she used to make patient-focused recommendations to the program’s leaders.

2018-2019 Fellow Alice Zhu identified obstacles to the successful closure of cases in Legacy’s Health Advocate Student Intern program. She used data from Legacy’s internal database to determine that health insurance status has a significant effect on patient outcomes at Legacy, and she proposed that Legacy implement various educational efforts to make both patients and staff members aware of the importance of insurance and the options that are available.

LINK Houston

LINK Houston advocates for a robust and equitable transportation network so that all people can reach opportunity. It believes that a lack of transportation options is a significant barrier to reaching opportunities—affordable housing, education, work, healthcare and grocery stores. LINK Houston maintains that household savings related to Houston’s relatively low cost of housing are often outweighed by travel time and car-related costs. Disasters—from hurricanes to debilitating illness—exacerbate the need for transportation alternatives, such as better public transportation, safe and accessible sidewalks and protected bike paths for people. LINK Houston’s work focuses on three area: ensuring better transit; improving safety and access for people walking and biking; and keeping communities connected in the face of the I-45 highway expansion.

LINK Houston is a new partner for the 2019-2020 academic year.

School Literacy and Culture

School Literacy and Culture (SLC) supports teachers of young children in public, private and charter schools across the greater Houston area with an emphasis on service in underserved communities. Fellows with SLC have an opportunity to combine meaningful experiences with preschool children at a demonstration teaching lab in a Houston ISD early childhood center with policy work, research, and other projects related to issues of equity or non-profit management. Some fellows choose to concentrate their full weekly allocation of hours in research and policy-based project work. SLC’s staff is small, so it warmly welcomes fellows into important projects that impact the organization and the teachers and young children with whom SLC works.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Emma Siegel administered and analyzed the results of a survey to gauge parents’ engagement in SLC’s “parent days.” She conducted surveys through SLC’s Owl Lab and Early Literacy Language Academy programs in two distinct neighborhoods and concluded that SLC’s parent engagement strategies are effective with both English-speaking and non-English-speaking parents.

2018-2019 Fellow Emma Young undertook a comprehensive analysis of SLC’s Early Literacy Leadership Academy (ELLA), examining the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the campuses where program participants are employed. Emma created a set of recommendations that will help SLC generate and cultivate relationships in high-need communities the organization hasn’t yet reached.

2017-2018 Fellow Vinita Shivakumar used the web-based StoryMap platform to create a visually appealing, interactive, and informative tool for communicating the impact of SLC’s Early Literacy Leadership Academy (ELLA).

2016-2017 Fellow Talia Liu studied interactions with children in the OWL Lab, focusing on children’s use of extended discourse. She provided her analysis and recommendations to the OWL Lab. 

2016-2017 Fellow Salem Hadgu conducted a literature review of research about executive functioning in children and used the information to create a research proposal, update the School Literacy and Culture website, and create and give PowerPoint presentations.

2014-2015 Fellow Olivia Lewis researched the evidence behind the use of story baskets with young children in promoting English literacy and language use. She then created and delivered 34 story baskets to Small Steps Nurturing Center campuses and held sessions with parents about the benefits of using story baskets and how to create their own.

Small Steps Nurturing Center

The mission of Small Steps Nurturing Center is to provide an exemplary early childhood education that fosters the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual growth of economically at-risk children and their families. Small Steps employs highly qualified and committed teachers, ensures low teacher-student ratios, and provides students with nutritious meals and needed transportation. The organization has generated a wealth of data, both anecdotal and empirical, that indicates its effectiveness in providing quality, transformative early childhood education. Students in this placement work at Small Steps' Fifth Ward campus.

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Radhika Patel conducted a literature review of the link between developmental delays in children and poverty. She subsequently assessed the fine motor skills of children in a kindergarten classroom at SSNC and concluded that 50% of the children had not met all of the fine motor skills milestones. She then created science-based activities and curricula that build fine motor skills and can be incorporated into SSNC’s lessons. 

2018-2019 Fellow Natalie Saenz conducted interviews with SSNC’s Director as well as other staff members to identify the biggest hygiene-related challenges the organization faces with regard to its students. Taking into consideration the data she collected, Natalie designing play-based curricula that teach students how to avoid the transmission of communicable illnesses and other transmittable health hazards.

2017-2018 Fellow Alicia Leong created a mindfulness-based curriculum for Small Steps after observing classrooms on a weekly basis, consulting with the director and classroom teachers at Small Steps, reviewing literature on mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) in preschools, and conducting preliminary trials runs of an MBI curriculum.

2013-2014 Fellows Kiara Sanchez and Allison Shields researched best practices for speech teachers based on speech and language data and presented their analysis and recommendations to Small Steps Nurturing Center teachers.

Urban Enrichment Institute

The Urban Enrichment Institute is a youth leadership and development program for at-risk males ages 12-19. The core program of the organization is “School-Based Projects,” which aims to link together all school, after-school and home activities. Through this work, UEI engages 200-300 high-risk minority youth each day in a positive and educational after-school environment. Mentoring, academic tutoring, and leadership training form the key components of this program. The organization seeks to redirect the energies of participants to positive future goals and to empower boys to become responsible men and productive members of their families and communities. 

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Kusha Gupta explored two community processes that affect student life: gentrification and policing. She initiated discussions with high schoolers, interviewed five community service providers and created a personalized, contextualizing map that Urban Enrichment Institute can use to manage interview data and present these issues to board members and other stakeholders.  

2017-2018 Fellows Nehemiah Ankoor and James Sanft created and administered an in-depth “Gifts Questionnaire” to black and Latino male students to identify each boy’s motivational gift(s). The goal of this assessment was to affirm the students’ innate talents and capabilities. Additionally, the Fellows created a database of 300 occupations and coded them according to how well they fit with each gift. Finally, they outlined the next steps for using the database and questionnaire results to teach the students about different career opportunities through career fairs and targeted job shadowing experiences.

2016-2017 Fellows Michael Do and Ben Herndon-Miller researched the effectiveness of project-based learning and used this method to create after-school programming around STEM education and ACT preparation. They tracked the grades of students in their weekly workshops and surveyed all students in the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program to identify the needs and interests of students as they relate to after-school programming.

2015-2016 Fellows Eric Gong and Joshua Rahmen researched the relationship between life expectancy and years of education completed, and they encouraged students from the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program to pursue higher levels of education.

2014-2015 Fellow Felipe Arenas Gallo led workshops on global cultures and geography and planned and executed a visit to Rice University for students in the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program. The goal of this programming was to increase students’ knowledge of and exposure to culture and geography outside of the Fifth Ward.

Urban Harvest

When Urban Harvest was founded in 1994, many thought that food could not be grown organically in Houston. Since then, Urban Harvest has introduced an alternate vision for the city, revealing that sustainable fruits and vegetables can flourish in Houston’s unique climate, and locally grown, healthy food can revitalize and empower our region. Urban Harvest’s programs echo this philosophy. Its farmers markets bring together farmers, vendors, and thousands of Houstonians in a vibrant community that celebrates fresh food and local growers. Each year, its youth education program teaches hands-on gardening to over 5,000 Houston-area students, and through its Edible Academy workshop, that number—and impact—doubles. Additionally, Urban Harvest’s community gardens program provides resources and education to over 135 gardens and supports communities in growing their own food and creating sustainable greenspaces.

Urban Harvest is a new partner for the 2020-2021 academic year.

YES Prep Fifth Ward

Founded in 1995, YES Prep Public Schools is a system of high-performing public charter schools that aims to increase the number of students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead. The organization envisions a Houston in which every child has equitable access to a public school that delivers college-ready education. YES Prep Fifth Ward, rooted in one of Houston’s most historical communities, was founded in 2011 and serves grades 6-12. It strives to embody “as spirit of collaboration” and to “provide an unbelievable opportunity for growth to students and teachers.”

Past Projects

2018-2019 Fellow Dominique Mazero investigated how students’ participation in sports affects their educational outcomes. She conducted interviews with YES Prep alumni student-athletes, distributed a questionnaire to current YES Prep coaches and received data from YES Prep’s legal team about GPAs and AP course enrollment of student athletes. Using these various data, Dominique ran quantitative analyses and concluded that participation in athletics leads to better educational outcomes in low-income students at YES Prep.

2018-2019 Fellow Zoe Parker explored various dynamics of YES Prep students’ participation in extracurricular activities. She designed, administered and analyzed the results of a survey that gathered information about the barriers to students’ participation in extracurriculars, their levels of engagement in extracurriculars and the effectiveness of YES Prep’s communication about extracurricular opportunities. Using her findings, Zoe made evidence-based recommendations to YES Prep that strategically address the barriers to extracurricular involvement that students face.

YMCA of Greater Houston—South Texas Office for Refugees (STOR)

The YMCA of Greater Houston’s South Texas Office for Refugees (STOR) is one of four federally-selected Regional Replacement Designees in Texas that administer assistance to populations served by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). These programs include a host of social services, cash assistance and medical assistance for refugees who are resettled through the U.S. Reception and Replacement program under the U.S. Department of State. The Replacement Designees, including STOR, make up the Texas Refugee Programs Coordinating Body. This collaborative and its partners ensure that all ORR-eligible populations have access to the critical resources they need to rebuild their lives in Texas. STOR is also the statewide database manager for all refugee services data collection.

Inactive as of 2018: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Buffalo Bayou Partnership seeks to make Buffalo Bayou a central, regional amenity. The organization is proud that its restoration and revitalization work has effectively balanced conservation and development through projects that serve multiple purposes— recreation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration. Buffalo Bayou Partnership has also successfully completed site-specific plans for public art, lighting, and conservation management.

Past Projects

2017-2018 Fellow Sophia Rodriguez examined how the need for affordable housing in Houston’s Fifth Ward and East End neighborhoods can align with Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s East Sector Master Plan. She took inventory of vacant lots in the region to understand the potential for purchase and new development, interviewed a prominent Houston architect about the potential for affordable housing, and offered insight into how prefab and tiny homes might fit into the future of Houston housing.

2016-2017 Fellow Michael Moran took inventory of and mapped the lots and industrial buildings along Buffalo Bayou. 

2015-2016 Fellows Caroline Brigham and Rachel Galton designed and implemented a survey to identify how the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Buffalo Bayou Partnership could combine efforts to connect the Fifth Ward Community to Buffalo Bayou.

Inactive as of 2018: CAN DO Houston

CAN DO Houston seeks to prevent and diminish childhood obesity in Houston and surrounding communities through physical activity, nutrition and healthy minds by enabling the broadest collaboration of individuals, institutions and organizations. CAN DO Houston organizes and promotes a number of community-based and community-driven environmental and policy changes to promote healthy eating and active living. Examples of our activities include teaching healthy lifestyle classes (food preparation, nutrition and physical activity), classes on leadership and advocacy, establishing community and school gardens, setting up healthy corner stores, improving access to safe places to play, promoting complete streets, facilitating classes on parenting and family wellness, and supporting the efforts of other organizations with similar missions. CAN DO has programs and projects in the Fifth Ward, East End and Third Ward.

Past Projects

2017-2018 Fellow Serena Tohme surveyed 16 corner stores that have been part of CAN DO Houston’s Healthy Corner Store (HCS) initiative since 2013. She assessed them according to several parameters (including store cleanliness, atmosphere, safety, food labeling, ads for liquor/tobacco products, and refrigeration) and subsequently made recommendations about which locations are most suitable for the HCS program going forward.   

2016-2017 Fellow, Wesley Chou, used data from the Kinder Institute’s Houston Community Data Connections program to research and map how the Fifth Ward has changed from 2005-2015. He also researched and compiled a report about how three other metropolitan cities – Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles – are addressing gentrification.  

2015-2016 Fellows, Anna Klineberg and Courtney Wang, developed curriculum for a 10-week course to equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge, skills and self-efficacy to implement practical, healthy changes in the home environment.

2013-2014 Fellows, Katherine Cai and Alyssa Lang, created and compiled a resource to support the Let’s Move Magnolia program which included exercise schedules, meal plans and work out videos.

2018-2019 Fellow Kusha Gupta explored two community processes that affect student life: gentrification and policing. She initiated discussions with high schoolers, interviewed five community service providers and created a personalized, contextualizing map that Urban Enrichment Institute can use to manage interview data and present these issues to board members and other stakeholders.