Today, on Giving Tuesday, the Houston Texans, ConocoPhillips, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages and Miller Lite awarded $400,000 through the Inspire Change Grant Fund to 15 local nonprofits and educational programs working to make a difference in the Houston community. The recipients were surprised at a breakfast this morning at NRG Stadium with Vice President of the Houston Texans Foundation Hannah McNair, Texans players and Texans Legends.
The Texans and their partners announced the creation of the Inspire Change Grant Fund in September to aid programs, seed projects and create partnerships that support social justice and racial equity efforts. In this inaugural year of the fund, 114 unique grant applications were submitted. An advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Texans representatives including Hannah McNair and Texans Legend Wade Smith reviewed all submissions and selected the 15 organizations which received the funds.
"It's an honor to award these incredible nonprofits and programs in such a meaningful way," said McNair. "The organizations' unwavering commitment to Houston's youth and their families is unmatched, and we're proud to help them continue to make a positive impact on the next generation. We know that it takes all of us to inspire change and we are looking forward to seeing their continued work to reduce barriers for so many in our community."
The grant recipients represent a wide range of social justice initiatives, including health advocacy, incarceration and criminal justice reform, homelessness, youth development, education and mental health. Groups had the opportunity to apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. The 2021 Inspire Change Grant recipients include:
SHAPE Community Center | $50,000
Mission Statement: To improve the quality of life for people of African descent (all people) through programs and activities, with emphasis on Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.
Area of Focus: Anti-bias/ Anti-racism, Youth Diversity Program, Education, History of Minority Groups in America Education, Mental Health Support Access, Racial Equity, Relational Policing, Workforce and Economic Development
More about SHAPE Community Center: As one of the most visible and involved community centers in Houston's African-American community and the Houston community as a whole, S.H.A.P.E. has led the way toward justice, equal opportunity, and institution building. The grant funds will be used to enhance youth programs and youth leadership training in after-school and all-day programs to accommodate children and caregivers. During these programs, children and their families will have access to technology and be exposed to equity-building opportunities, outdoor activities and enrichment activities, which most are not otherwise able to access. Funds will also help provide for the summer "Freedom Tour," a week-long bus tour through the South, visiting sites that are central to the Civil Rights Movement.
Cy-Hope Counseling & Speech Therapy | $35,000
Mission Statement: Cy-Hope's mission statement is to make life better for children by mobilizing entire communities to provide opportunities for students to succeed in life.
Area of Focus: Mental Health Support Access
More about Cy-Hope Counseling & Speech Therapy: Cy-Hope aims at providing opportunities that help vulnerable children succeed in life and bring hope to underserved children. Cy-Hope programs include drop out prevention, counseling services, hunger prevention, and funding programs for underserved students in the arts, music and sports. In addition, Cy-Hope provides after school and summer tutoring, life skills, mentoring and literacy programs to help students in low-income areas read at or above grade level by the time they reach third grade. The grant funds will be used to provide counseling services and speech therapy at no cost to children, individuals and families.
Emancipation Park Conservancy | $30,000
Mission Statement: The mission of Emancipation Park Conservancy is to enhance Emancipation Park by preserving its integrity and enriching its heritage as a local, state, national, and international landmark.
Area of Focus: Education, History of Minority Groups in America Education, Racial Equity
More about Emancipation Park Conservancy: The founding and establishment of Emancipation Park by formerly enslaved people to celebrate their freedom, build community, and provide a safe space within the city, is both a testament to the human spirit and the American dream. Emancipation Park Conservancy (EPC) is intentional in identifying innovative ways to promote health and wellness activities; spur economic development and build supportive ecosystems for black-owned businesses; and encourage the use of its green space to positively contribute to the promotion of active lifestyles and addressing equity and injustice issues. Through its education pillar, EPC will host a series of digital programing to be integrated into the Black History Month programming of elementary schools in Houston targeting the Greater Third Ward and Sunnyside communities. The grant funds will be used to develop and distribute educational materials and cover program expenses.
Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy | $30,000
Mission Statement: To preserve the historic legacy of Freedmen's Town inspiring all through education and awareness of its unique story.
Area of Focus: History of Minority Groups in America Education
More about Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy: On June 16, 2021, Freedmen's Town was named as Houston's first Heritage District. Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy (HFTC) will utilize grant funds to kick off regular and recurring tours for families with K-12 students. The tours will lead patrons through the historic brick streets and let them know that the very street that they walk on was the "Harlem of the South" less than a century ago. The funds will help HFTC tell the story of freedom and how this magnificent town came to be through the diligence and determination of freed blacks in the United States. For Freedmen's Town residents, the culture heritage tourism will strengthen the local economy; promote resource protection; increase visitorship; generate employment; preserve the unique character of the community; increase community pride and stimulate economic growth.
The Chauncey Glover Project | $30,000
Mission Statement: The Chauncy Glover Project (CGP) is an extensive, hands-on mentoring program and Federally approved non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was created to groom inner-city teenage boys into upstanding and accomplished gentlemen.
Area of Focus: Anti-bias/ Anti-racism, Youth Diversity Training, Education, History of Minority Groups in America Education, Mental Health Support Access, Racial Equity, Relational Policing
More about The Chauncey Glover Project: The Chauncy Glover Project (CGP) recognizes the significant level of concern regarding the underachievement of Black and Latino males when compared to their peers. We are committed to social justice and challenging the roles of power, privilege, and oppression that have led to this achievement gap. The program helps Black and Latino males who have potential but lack the guidance and support to achieve success after high school graduation through mentoring that is culturally and gender specific. Our program framework provides a unique opportunity for young men of color to experience academic success by establishing a sense of trust, brotherhood, empowerment, and accountability, not found in their everyday experiences. The grant funds will be used to help pay for the staff members, professional services provided including tutoring/test prep, and workshop facilitators, travel for field trips, program activities, and mentoring conferences, supplies and materials such as food, program materials, uniforms, staff education and training, and branding/marketing
Ben Cheri Educational Center | $25,000
Mission Statement: Our mission is to bridge the gap of illiteracy among our youth, families and community as a whole and ensure a successful career pathway to a local community college and/or university.
Area of Focus: Education, Employment, Workforce and Economic Development
More about Ben Cheri Educational Center: BenCheri Educational Center, a woman-minority-led organization in the heart of Acres Homes, supports youth and families by providing tutoring, mentoring, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, after-school programming, and other educational services to youth and families of color in low-income communities. BenCheri sources experienced tutors for schools in HISD. These tutors provide students with intensive interventions and support during the school day. Beyond work in schools, BenCheri also provides preventative servicest hat provides students with tools to prevent anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use, bullying, and peer pressure. Funds will be used to add additional staff and tutoring services, purchase educational supplies and more.
Books Between Kids | $25,000
Mission Statement: Books Between Kids is a non-profit organization serving Houston's at-risk children by providing them with books to build their own home libraries.
Area of Focus: Education
More about Books Between Kids: Books Between Kids was born because two moms saw the inequities and uneven distribution of books among the community. In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children (Susan Neuman, Handbook of Early Literacy Research). Books Between Kids aims to change this by providing economically disadvantaged children with books free of charge. Programs include book fairs where each child gets to choose 6 books to keep and delivering books monthly to children under the age of 5. Grant funds will be used to support operations to get books out the door and into the hands and homes of children in Houston.
Mission Statement: The mission of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance is to provide emotional, educational, and practical support to children with cancer and their families.
Area of Focus: Education, Poverty, Human Services
More about Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance: Candlelighters was founded by families of children with cancer to help fellow families through childhood cancer, regardless of background, heritage, race, financial status. Candlelighters partners with families as they battle the disease and the tremendous financial and emotional burdens they inherit immediately upon diagnosis. Even with adequate insurance coverage, non-medical expenses add additional stress and hardship to the family budget. The grant will assist Candlelighters with providing practical support to families of children including providing hospital parking expenses, in-hospital meal passes, groceries and toiletries for families of inpatient children, gas cards, seasonal family entertainment events and, when necessary, funeral assistance for families whose children have lost their battle
Cherish Our Children Inc | $25,000
Mission Statement: COCI helps children of incarcerated parents (COIP) develop the skills needed to successfully break free from the cycle of intergenerational incarceration, succeed in school, and achieve fulfilling lives.
Area of Focus: Support for Children with Incarcerated Parents
More about Cherish Our Children Inc: Children of incarcerated parents (COIP) are unintended victims of the criminal justice system which disproportionately impacts Blank and Latino people of color perpetuating a cycle of intergenerational incarceration. The Cherish Our Children GEMS program targets middle-school COIP to intervene and help break the unintended cycle of intergenerational incarceration when prevention has the biggest impact.The grant funds will help expand the GEMS program in Houston to reach additional students to break the cycle of incarceration.
Communities in Schools of Houston | $25,000
Mission Statement: The mission of Communities In Schools of Houston is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to succeed in school and achieve in life.
Area of Focus: Education, Mental Health Support Access, Poverty, Racial Equity
More about Communities in Schools of Houston: Communities in Schools' (CIS) commitment to social justice is at the core of their mission: to surround students with a community of support. CIS focuses on low income and underserved students with a presence on 164 campuses across greater Houston. CIS' Mental Health Initiative (MHI) launched in 2012 in response to significant need for professional mental health services on school campuses. Requested funds will support the CIS Mental Health Initiative providing counseling and direct services in-person on the school campus and via secure remote conferencing. Services are designed to alleviate emotional and behavioral challenges, improve student socio-emotional health, and in turn, promote scholastic achievement.
Girls Inc of Greater Houston | $25,000
Mission Statement: To inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. At Girls Inc., we strive to effectively meet the needs of girls in their communities; develop girls' capacity to be self-sufficient and responsible members of the community, to help girls overcome the effects of discrimination, and to serve as a vigorous advocate for girls, focusing attention on the specific needs of each person.
Area of Focus: Anti-bias/ Anti-racism, Youth Diversity Program, Education, Racial Equity
More about Emancipation Park Conservancy: The grant funds will help underwrite, grow and sustain the BOLD LeadHER Initiative (BLI) Program. The program serves girls ages 13-18 with research-based curriculum addressing learning and social emotional support; workshops for Writing, STEM and Financial Literacy; civic service projects and community engagement; and academic activities like SAT/ACT prep and tutoring.
Justice Forward | $25,000
Mission Statement: Justice Forward, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Houston, has a mission is to break the cycle of incarceration and fund essential programs for individuals in Harris County Specialty Courts to help them become independent and productive members of the community.
Area of Focus: Criminal Justice Reform, Education, Employment, Homelessness, Mental Health Support Access, Poverty, Racial Equity
More about Justice Forward: Justice Forward has a mission is to break the cycle of incarceration and fund essential programs for individuals in Harris County Specialty Courts to help them become independent and productive members of the community. Justice Forward raises funds to pay for a variety of essential and needed support services to help adults, veterans, juveniles and families in all Harris County Specialty Courts return to the community and avoid recidivism. The grant funds will help provide the following services for clients/special graduates of specialty courts: counseling including teaching life skills and one-on-one mental health support, transitional housing, tuition assistance/scholarships for basic education, workforce or technical training, transportation for court required activities, and special needs such as COVID supplies, food and clothing.
Career Gear Houston | $20,000
Mission Statement: We are inspiring confidence in disenfranchised men and male youth to significantly improve the quality of life through economic empowerment.
Area of Focus: Education, Employment, Poverty, Support for Children and Incarcerated Parents, Workforce and Economic Development
More about Career Gear Houston: Since 2004, Career Gear has sought out social justice for the underserved, the disenfranchised and sectors of society that have historically struggled to achieve the "American Dream". These groups include those who were previously incarcerated and their families, youth from single parent homes, teenage fathers, families that are impacted by generational poverty and those who have been targeted by the criminal justice system. Career Gear works with these groups to empower them to overcome the barriers that label them. The grant funds will be used to support Well Suited Youth Career Readiness services targeting youth of incarcerated parents to provide mentorship and to help students learn about professional presentation, receive their first suit, and culminates in a hiriing event to help students become a second source of income for their family.
The Birthday Joy Program | $20,000
Mission Statement: The Birthday Joy Program's mission is to encourage a sense of self-worth and a feeling of hope to children living in crisis through the joy of birthday celebrations.
Area of Focus: Poverty, Support for Children with Incarcerated Parents
More about The Birthday Joy Program: The Birthday Joy Program provides a means to celebrate children in our community whose families are experiencing hardship through loss of job, incarceration, poverty, illness, natural disaster, etc. The Birthday Joy Program recognizes that when a family is struggling to put food on the table or cover day to day expenses, a child's upcoming birthday becomes a source of stress and anxiety, not joy. The goal of the Birthday Joy Program is to help turn those feelings of stress and despair to that of hope and happiness. Birthday Fixins Bags are also distributed to local social service agencies such as CPS caseworkers, foster licensing agencies and to local food banks. We celebrate birthdays for children at shelters in the Greater Houston area and we use our resources to throw extravagant birthday parties for children that have experienced trauma from abuse and neglect.Grant funds will go towards purchasing books, toys, party supplies such as paper goods, food, treats, and entertainment rentals as well as scholarships for extra curricular activities for low income families.
The Lawson Academy | $10,000
Mission Statement: Our mission is to provide a comprehensive education in single-gender environment based on four cornerstones: Relevant curriculum, Rigorous instruction, Respect for self and others in the learning community, and Reciprocity, or give and take, of ideas and talents
Area of Focus: Education, History of Minority Groups in America Education, Workforce and Economic Development
More about The Lawson Academy: The Lawson Academy was the first single-gender public school in Texas and is committed to providing academic and social development to young people and to help them learn to become strong adults. The vision of The Lawson Academy is to create a student-centered, collaborative learning environment in which our scholars utilize innovative learning approaches and technology to become college-ready and to develop into civic-minded, contributing members of the global community. The grant funds will be used for entrepreneurship classes in the fall and spring session.
On Giving Tuesday, the Houston Texans, ConocoPhillips, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages and Miller Lite awarded $400,000 through the Inspire Change Grant Fund to 15 local nonprofits and educational programs working to make a difference in the Houston community. The recipients were surprised at a breakfast this morning at NRG Stadium with Vice President of the Houston Texans Foundation Hannah McNair, Texans players and Texans Legends. Learn more.