Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones established Houston Endowment in 1937. The Joneses were committed to the success of their community and believed that all individuals should have the opportunity to thrive. Throughout their lifetimes they worked toward this vision, courageously tackling some of the most difficult social issues of their time in an effort to remove barriers to opportunity.
Houston Endowment has been a vital part of the Greater Houston community for nearly 79 years. The foundation has helped build museums, cultural institutions, universities, hospitals and iconic green spaces; we have helped to support hundreds of nonprofit organizations working to strengthen social safety nets, transform education, enhance the creative ecosystem and preserve and protect our air, land and water. During that time we also awarded over 11,000 scholarships to help send Houston-area students to college.
Since it was founded in 1937, Houston Endowment has awarded $1.9 billion ($3.2 billion in constant dollars) in grants.
Houston Endowment is a private philanthropic institution working across the community to create change that benefits the people of Greater Houston.
The foundation has current assets of over $1.6 billion and makes grants totaling approximately $80 million each year.
The organization is led by a self-perpetuating Board of Directors and managed by a professional staff. All grant recommendations are voted on by the Board during four grantmaking meetings throughout the calendar year. In order to further its priorities, the foundation engages in activities beyond grantmaking, including convening thought leaders, commissioning research and participating on steering committees or working groups with local and national partners.
Community Partners and Supporters,
This past year has been an important one for Houston Endowment. In April, our Board of Directors adopted formal vision and mission statements that reflect our deep commitment to greater Houston and to its future as a vibrant region where all have the opportunity to thrive.
In 2015, we awarded 164 grants totaling more than $73,700,000 to organizations serving the people of greater Houston. We continued to focus on connecting issues, ideas and people in order to amplify the impact of our grantmaking.
We are presenting the 2015 Annual Report in digital format through a new website. This report celebrates some of the great work going on across our community and highlights how Houston Endowment continues to evolve to increase our impact. We look forward to sharing more stories and learnings as our work continues.
Sincerely, Ann B. Stern
A vibrant region where all have the opportunity to thrive
Enhance the vibrancy of greater Houston and advance equity of opportunity for the people who live here
Total Paid in Grants since Founding:
($3.2 billion in constant dollars)
Total Grants Approved:
164 grants to 153 organizations
Total of Grants Approved:
(some of which will be paid in future years)
|Size of Organization|
(by operating expenses)
|Number of Organizations|
Awarded Grants in 2015
|$500K - $10M||79||$21.34M|
|$10M - $50M||21||$9.14M|
|$50M - $250M||7||$9.67M|
with a Collective
For Houston to prosper, we must ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop intellectually, socially and emotionally.
The early years of a child’s life are pivotal; positive environments, stimulating experiences and a range of caring adults all build the brain architecture in young children that is critical for future learning and long-term well-being.
In 2014 Houston business and community leaders came together to create Early Matters, a collective impact effort focused on early childhood development. The coalition began by addressing policy changes to support improved third grade reading scores, noting the strong link between reading ability in elementary school and high school graduation rates.
The coalition’s work has since expanded to consider the family, healthcare and early education structures, practices that can best support reaching that goal and, more broadly, to help ensure the healthy development of Houston’s children.
Houston Endowment has provided significant financial and leadership support toward the development of Early Matters. We are also working in partnership with Episcopal Health Foundation to ensure Early Matters continues to focus on community engagement, so that diverse community voices contribute to the coalition’s understanding of the experiences of families across our region.
Community leaders created a broad-based coalition composed of over 65 organizations (over 150 individuals) with a shared goal to raise third grade reading scores
The Early Matters members established a governance structure, including an executive committee, a steering committee and six strategically focused working groups led by subject-matter experts
Early Matters held a community summit to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood education
Areas school districts reached agreement on common measures for kindergarten readiness
The goal of the Early Matters coalition is that all Houston-area third graders are reading on grade level by 2025.
Quality education systems are critical to the future of Houston. For Houston to thrive, we must dramatically increase college completion rates for students across the city. While it’s estimated that 35% of jobs will require a college degree by 2020, currently only 1 in 10 Houston students from under-resourced backgrounds graduates from college.
Students from under-resourced backgrounds face a number of barriers to college completion, including uneven academic preparation or lack of financial resources. One of the biggest challenges, however, is an incomplete understanding of the college application process, from how to create a college list and prepare for entrance exams to how to complete the numerous admission and scholarship forms.
Once students transition to college, they may need additional support, especially if they are from backgrounds where college matriculation is not the norm. Effective support structures – such as mentorships, leadership training, tutoring and peer group support – can make the difference in a student’s ability to successfully navigate college and obtain a degree.
Houston Endowment invested $3 million in HISD to make college counseling available on all high school campuses – an investment matched by an additional $3 million investment from HISD to support more college counselors in secondary schools across the district. HISD committed an additional $4M over 3 years to build capacity for comprehensive college advising through centralized college access experts, leveraging funds made available by Houston Endowment’s investment in EMERGE.
This investment will help drive increased college matriculation and completion rates by ensuring all HISD high school students have access to a dedicated college counselor to provide comprehensive support through the college application process.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the number of campuses with a fully dedicated college advisor increased from 25 to 47. The increased resources meant that 98% of all secondary students across the district had access to a college advisor. The number of college applicants rose dramatically as a result: in 2015-2016, 82% of all HISD seniors completed college applications, compared to 59% the previous year.
(Totals represent three-year commitments)
Houston Endowment’s $5.5 million investment in EMERGE-HISD allows the program to prepare more talented students across the district to apply to and graduate from top colleges. The grant also allows HISD to shift funds previously dedicated to EMERGE toward system-level college counseling support that benefits all students in the district.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the EMERGE program expanded to serve over 650 students in grades 10-12. The 164 seniors participating in the program were accepted into 193 unique universities across the nation.
The University Leadership Network (ULN) is a program designed to help students develop leadership skills while achieving academic success consistent with graduating in four years.
The UT-ULN program provides both financial support and effective wrap around services to students who show academic promise but who may face other barriers to college completion. The Endowment’s grant supports all students from Greater Houston who participate in ULN; these students are designated Jones Scholars.
Jones Scholars participating in ULN persisted through their freshman year at rates comparable to the larger freshman class at UT: of the 124 Jones ULN 2015 scholars, 120 persisted through their freshman year.
to Address Complex Social Issues
In 2011, Greater Houston had one of the largest homeless populations in the country. On any given night, over 8,500 people were without a permanent place to call home. The impact of homelessness on individuals and families is dramatic; the lack of housing affects family stability, continuous employment and personal well-being. The community at large also feels the effects: one University of Texas study found that each homeless person costs taxpayers over $14,000 per year, largely as a result of costs associated with shelters, medical care and incarceration.
Houston Endowment has provided significant financial and leadership support since 2012 to end area homelessness.
Houston Endowment support included early planning grants to understand the complex nature of homelessness in Greater Houston and develop a local framework for addressing the issue, and capacity-building grants to nonprofits working within the homelessness continuum of care.
The Way Home, a collaborative effort involving more than 70 public and private organizations committed to preventing and ending homelessness in Houston, Harris County and Fort Bend County, launched in 2014 as a result of community-wide engagement and planning. That same year, Houston Endowment made an additional, multi-year investment of $12.5 million to six different organizations involved in the collaborative.
The Way Home built a coordinated access system involving shelters, hospitals and the criminal justice system to streamline access to housing options; the system also allows more effective collection and tracking of data
Greater Houston effectively ended veterans’ homelessness in 2015, housing more than 4,400 area veterans since 2011
The number of chronic homeless individuals in greater Houston has decreased more than 75% since 2011
The Way Home began strategizing to address homeless youth, including those aging out of foster care or youth involved with the criminal justice system
The Way Home goals include ending chronic homelessness in the region by 2016 and ending family homelessness by 2020.
Philanthropic support can play a critical role in collaborative efforts to address complex social issues.
Private dollars can be used in concert with local, state and federal support to help catalyze the planning process, fill in gaps in programming or fund innovative approaches.
As a collabrative partner in The Way Home, Houston Endowment helped to:
We provided capacity-building grants so that organizations involved in the homelessness continuum of care could more efficiently align with The Way Home model.
We provided a $4 million grant to the Corporation for Supportive Housing to help address a gap in funding for permanent supporting housing units. The Endowment’s grant helped leverage public dollars, ultimately resulting in greater capacity to house chronically homeless individuals in Greater Houston.
Working with the Simmons Foundation, Houston Endowment has helped initiate and support the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, a collective of more than 40 members that assists low-income immigrants in accessing information and legal representation.
Houston Endowment is working with the United Way, the Coalition for the Homeless and the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council to ensure that the service providers and government agencies that address and prevent domestic violence are working together effectively.
Investing in the
Health is the foundation for a fulfilling and productive life.
Healthy individuals are better able to pursue education and employment, raise stable families, engage in cultural or recreational activities and contribute to their communities and to the region as a whole.
While greater Houston is home to some of the finest health institutions and the largest medical center in the world, many of our region’s residents are unable to access basic medical care or other services that promote wellness and can prevent or mitigate poor health outcomes. And in too many of our neighborhoods, residents lack access to green spaces, healthy food and other amenities that can help them lead healthier lives.
We seek to improve the health of Greater Houston’s residents so that all have the opportunity to thrive.
In 2015, we focused our work in health
on the following priorities:
To ensure that Houstonians can access the care they need.
we are working to:
To ensure that all Houstonians live in environments that promote good health.
we are working to:
A grant to help develop the Primary Care Innovation Center, a data-driven effort to address the social determinants of health among certain high-need patients and reduce utilization and cost of emergency room care
A grant to support advocacy efforts to expand access to and improve the system of prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness and behavioral health issues
A grant toward coordination of Healthy Living Matters, a multi-sector initiative to curb childhood obesity in Harris County through policy and environmental change strategies
A grant to help equip local partners to educate uninsured and underinsured populations in the Houston area about available health insurance options
A healthy arts ecosystem is fundamental to a vibrant community.
The arts both reflect and amplify this vibrancy, help us appreciate our connections to this area and one another, and contribute to civic pride and economic strength.
All Houstonians should be able to benefit from art’s intrinsic ability to inspire, express and connect.
Houston Endowment investments in a wide spectrum of arts organizations bolster the sector’s resiliency and impact, and expand access to arts and culture for all Houstonians.
Number of arts & culture organizations supported through direct grants in 2015:
Total amount paid in grants to arts & culture organizations in 2015:
Total number of new arts & culture grants awarded in 2015:
Total amount awarded in new grants in 2015:
As part of our priority to build the capacity of the arts and culture sector, Houston Endowment awarded 27 new grants for general operating support to a wide variety of arts organizations and cultural institutions in 2015. General operating support provides those organizations – most of which are small and mid-sized – unrestricted funds they can flexibly deploy for programming, operations or growth.
MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston) provides a new home for a variety of small and midsize arts organizations. The venue includes multiple performance spaces, rehearsal studios, 3,000 square feet of gallery space and offices for up to 60 arts professionals.
Made possible by a nearly $7 million investment from Houston Endowment, MATCH celebrated its grand opening in January.
The “cross-pollination” of audiences made possible by MATCH introduces people to forms of art and performance they might not otherwise encounter.
MATCH provides an easily accessible location for a diverse range of performances, exhibitions and community gatherings and is playing a key role in the revitalization of Midtown. Its location, steps from a light rail stop and within easy walking distance to restaurants, shops and apartments, helps to foster an active vibrancy on the street. MATCH is an important new component of the thriving arts ecosystem in Greater Houston.
Capacity-building for small and mid-sized arts organizations
Supporting second-round ENGAGE programming, which supports small and mid-sized arts organizations
Supporting data to educate the public and elected officials on the importance of the arts
Supporting programming that provides an “arts-rich” learning environment for more students, helping to develop creative expression, empathy and critical thinking
Supporting renovation efforts and partnering to enable free planetarium admission during the museum’s weekly free admission hours
Increasing Access to
Well-conceived parks and greenspaces contribute to the overall health of residents in urban areas. Studies show that children who have access to parks and greenspaces are more likely to be active and less likely to be overweight or obese, and people who live in a neighborhood with more greenspace have fewer symptoms of poor mental health. In addition to those health benefits, public greenspaces and parks enhance the quality of life for urban dwellers. Having access to these spaces allows individuals to continually refresh their intrinsic connection to nature and to connect with fellow residents.
Fewer than 50 percent of Houstonians currently live within a ten minute walk of a park.
Houston Endowment has consistently taken a lead role in transforming parks and greenspaces in greater Houston. The Endowment has provided critical early support for assessment, planning and “proof of concept” in a number of large-scale greenspace initiatives. The foundation’s efforts also include establishing neighborhood parks in “park desert” communities.
The Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative is an effort to develop green corridors across Greater Houston.
The project will result in a continuous parks system along nine of the region’s bayous, add more than 80 new miles of hike-and-bike trails and provide a network of 150 miles of greenspace crisscrossing the area.
Support to reenvision the eastern sector of the bayou, emphasizing a 4-mile stretch from downtown to Lockwood, through the city’s historic East Side
Support for the “Houston Area Greenways” plan to improve access to parks and trails for neighborhoods with the greatest need and to enhance community connectivity and mobility across the city
Support to reenvision the park in light of a changing downtown
Support to construct community parks on public school campuses in “park desert” communities across Greater Houston
Houston Endowment is working to increase the number of Houstonians who live within a ten minute walk of a park.
In Harris County,
1 out of 4 children
is growing up in poverty.
In Houston, that number
is 1 out of 3 children.
As our region grows, it faces more complex challenges. Houston Endowment’s $7 million grant to the Kinder Institute in 2015 exemplifies our belief that quality research plays a critical role in both advancing our understanding of those challenges and in creating solutions.
Building on the foundation of Dr. Stephen Klineberg’s Kinder Houston Area Survey, the Kinder Institute’s purpose is to advance understanding of the most important issues facing Houston. As a neutral, respected source of data and analysis in greater Houston, Kinder Institute helps inform decisions critical to the region. Since its founding in 2010, the Kinder Institute has established a broad range of collaborative research initiatives while continuing the Kinder Houston Area Survey.
The Kinder Institute’s work covers a wide spectrum of issues and topics important to Houston and other urban centers.
Current programs include the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), a partnership with Houston Independent School District, Houston Endowment and other community partners to drive quality educational outcomes for all of our children; the Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Culture, to explore the meaning of race in an increasingly complex racial world; and the Global Cities Initiative, designed to illuminate best practices of urban policy from around the world.
Houston Endowment’s 2015 grant allows Kinder Institute to expand its capacity with three new programs:
to provide high-quality research on emerging governance issues and convene stakeholders in the region to work on implementing promising solutions
to address issues associated with the growth and development of the Houston region and its neighborhoods
to document disparity in greater Houston, better understand its determinants and causes, and identify ideas and potential actions to improve the lives of Houstonians struggling with disparity
All three programs will provide greater understanding of the complex challenges facing our region and advance solutions that help ensure we remain a resilient urban center where all residents can thrive.
Ann B. Stern
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sheryl L. Johns
Vice President for Administration
Lisa A. Hall
Vice President for Programs
F. Xavier Pena
Vice President for Finance and General Counsel
Human Resource Manager
Rosa H. Cervantes
Manager of Accounting
Program Officer - Arts & Culture
Jeryce E. Clayton
Wendy M. Cloonan
Senior Program Officer – Education
Director of Finance
La Shaunda Davis
Director of Evaluation and Learning
Program Officer - Human Services
Director of Communications
Manager of Finance and Special Projects
Elizabeth G. Love
Senior Program Officer - Environment, Health and Arts & Culture
Paul W. McKinney
Thomas C. Nall, Jr.
Director of Technology
Director of Grant Management
Paralegal / Executive Assistant
Charles C. Plaster
Grant Systems and Reporting Manager
Program Officer - Human Services and Education
Leslie C. Wang
Senior Program Officer – Human Services
Ben Tecumseh DeSoto