No one can argue Houston's quality of life, low cost of living, and access to good education — especially public. However, there are still those, especially children, who lack access to quality education. As the City of Houston notes, educational opportunities play a key role in this city's quality of life.
Fortunately, there are myriad organizations, groups, initiatives, and centers here to help ensure both children — and adults — get the proper education they deserve. Read on to learn about these groups that are making the grade when it comes to making Houstonians' futures bright.
Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
The mission of the late first lady's foundation is to improve the quality of life for Houstonians of all ages through the power of literacy. The foundation serves as a champion for the literacy cause in Houston; mobilizes volunteers to expand the capacity of school districts, libraries and nonprofit organizations; contributes research and innovation to increase literacy development; and invests in community impact.
Books Between Kids
Serving Houston's at-risk children by providing them with books to build their own at-home libraries, the group accepts gently used or new children's books appropriate for pre-k to 5th grade readers. In six years, over 1,308,000 books have been given new homes with children living in 33 ZIP codes across Houston.
This organization's mission focuses on preventing trauma and abuse by teaching children ages pre-K through high school the skills they need to protect themselves and each other, while also empowering parents and teachers to keep their children and communities safe. All children and families in the greater Houston area are served, with the belief that every child can benefit from this training.
The Children's Museum of Houston
The mission of this ever-colorful museum is to transform communities through innovative, child-centered learning. Three major fundraising events are held there each year: The Dia de los Muertos Gala in October, and the Family and Friends Luncheon and Golf Classic in the spring. There are a variety of membership levels, beginning at $135.
Comp-U-Dot provides technology access and education to underserved youth through programs that serve to eliminate limited access to computers, facilitate growth in technical and digital literacy skills and support the future of youth in Houston communities. They also accept donations of computers, monitors, keyboards, mice and myriad other electronic equipment.
This group empowers and prepares high-performing students from Houston's underserved communities to attend and graduate from selective colleges and universities across the nation. There are several ways to get involved with Emerge, including hosting a fundraiser to support students and their transition to college and applying to become a mentor for a rising high school senior fellow.
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS)
In 2001, in response to the dramatic change in southwest Houston's demographics, the parishioners of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany established these services. Its mission is to connect people in need with health, social and educational resources that can improve their lives. You can get involved as a volunteer, supporter or ambassador.
Friends of Down Syndrome
These friends' mission is to create lifelong education and learning opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome through education, socialization and community outreach. The best way to get involved is to volunteer at the Down Syndrome Academy, a school for adults with Down syndrome in Northwest Houston. A new young professionals group is in the process of being formed.
GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land
GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center's mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. They offer free therapeutic and educational programming to individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Houston Center for Literacy
This center strengthens providers of adult education who, in turn, provide necessary skills for underemployed citizens to fulfill their potential and become economically self-sufficient. Volunteer opportunities range from helping with general office support to giving your time at community outreach events and annual fundraisers to working with Houston Center for Literacy Learners.
This program of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston cultivates confident, respectful and engaged leaders who embrace their own faith traditions and embody effective multicultural leadership skills in their personal and professional lives. They also organize events geared for high school students.
Literacy Advance of Houston
Since 1964, this crew has provided free English and reading classes to adults in Houston with the goal of transforming lives and communities through the doorway of literacy. And whatever the reason, the aim is to find out each student's learning goals and provide them with the personalized and practical assistance to help them reach those goals.
NAMI Greater Houston
The local chapter of this alliance provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. All of the no-cost education classes, support group meetings, and community outreach programs are taught by trained volunteers with first-hand experiences in mental health challenges.
National Math and Science Initiative
This initiative believes STEM education is the greatest lever to accessing opportunity, and is unmatched in unlocking student potential. Thus, its mission is to advance STEM education to ensure all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, thrive and reach their highest potential as problem-solvers and life-long learners who pursue their passions and tackle the world's toughest challenges.
For over 22 years, the center's mission has been to provide assistance to low-income families who are invested in seeking a better future for their children through education, emotional wellness and spiritual enrichment. Mentors and tutors are the foundation on which the Nehemiah Center rebuilds the lives of at-risk children and their families.
Project 88's mission is to connect underserved students to leadership development and educational opportunities by creating outlets and strategic collaborations. The group is committed to helping high school students become competitive college applicants and leaders in their communities.
Recipe for Success
This was launched in 2005 by Gracie and Bob Cavnar to lead the way in combatting childhood obesity by changing the way children understand, appreciate, and eat their food and by helping the community provide healthier diets for kids. Their gatherings range from exuberant parties and exquisitely intimate dinners to casual community get-togethers on the farm.
One of the most visible and involved community centers in Houston’s African-American community and the Houston community as a whole has led the way toward justice, equal opportunity, and institution building. Because of its deep commitment to the community, the center has actively sought ways to oppose injustice and to better the community for all people.
Single Moms Wanted
This nonprofit organization is designed to empower single moms to success by equipping them to be self-sufficient and financially independent. They are driven to "educate, equip, and empower" women through life skills, mentoring, leadership and community development in the Greater Houston area. It welcomes donations, volunteers and amenities that would aid those single mothers in need.
Texas Can Academies
These academies provide the highest quality education for all students, especially those who have struggled in a traditional high school setting, in order to ensure their economic independence. There are a multitude of ways to be involved, from donating to help students secure their economic independence to volunteering your time and talents to make a difference in the students' lives.
The H.E.A.R.T. Program
Since 2006, this program (which stands for Housing, Entrepreneurship and Readiness Training) was founded to create new opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, believing that everyone deserves the opportunity to excel and experience the sense of pride and accomplishment that is achieved through education and employment.
The HUB Houston
This non-residential program supporting neurodiverse teenagers and young adults as they navigate their personal journey through academics, employability, community involvement and care. Their mission is to build a sense of real belonging for everyone and use those relationships to discover and practice individual strengths.
The Monarch School and Institute
This school is dedicated to providing an innovative, therapeutic education for individuals with neurological differences, such as those associated with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, learning disabilities, Tourette syndrome, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, traumatic brain injury, and seizure disorders.
The Parish School
Since 1983, this school has educated children who have communication delays and learning differences, empowering them with the tools to succeed. It also offers free adult education sessions that are open to the public, as they believe in nurturing a love of lifelong learning not only in their students, but also in each other and the community.
The legendary UN agency works to put children first all over the world through fundraising, advocacy, and education for its global mandate here in the United States. They are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes, and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.
Writers in the Schools (WITS)
Their mission is to engage children in the joy and power of reading and writing. It brings innovative, specialized creative writing education to school, hospital, and community classrooms by fostering collaboration between teachers and talented professional writers, transforming literacy for 52,000 students each year