May 9, 2023
Expanding Community Impact
Houston’s growth is a testament to its grit and resilience. As Houston continues to evolve, so does Greater Houston Community Foundation (Foundation). As we look to the future, the Foundation’s focus includes Community Impact, ultimately leveraging our local knowledge, convening power, and collective resources to help create a better future for all Houstonians.
The Foundation has built deep relationships for nearly 30 years by honoring donor intent and igniting meaningful change with our clients. We help grow effective philanthropy by connecting donors to the causes they care about and providing excellent stewardship of assets entrusted to us. Our Community Impact Fund expands our collective reach to fuel new strategic investments to make Houston a more vibrant region for all.
A regional indicators project providing community leaders with credible data on various topics. The analysis and articles on UnderstandingHouston.org illuminate critical issues in the region to inform decision-making and reflect our commitment to using quantitative and qualitative data, evidence, and innovative ideas to invest in solutions that have impact.
Collaborative, catalytic grantmaking and deep partnerships that leverage resources to improve the lives of Houstonians. Our Board will identify our first issue area through a strategic and thoughtful approach by the end of 2023. Through an inclusive process, the Foundation will seek to maximize the impact of collective investment and efforts within a focus issue area over the next 3-5 years.
Partnerships to Strengthen Houston’s Resiliency to Disasters
Building on more than 35 years of combined experience serving as philanthropic first responders, we are creating meaningful impact to make Houston more resilient for all through a strategic partnership with United Way of Greater Houston. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement in June!
What is High-Impact Grantmaking?
We plan to bring together the best minds, hearts, ideas, and evidence to make a collective community investment that leads to a lasting impact. This innovative annual grantmaking opportunity is led by a committee of diverse experts consisting of some of Houston’s philanthropic, nonprofit, civic, and business leaders who bring a unique perspective on a pressing community need, allowing our Foundation donors and partners to invest in solutions with catalytic impact.
What are the advantages of High-Impact Grantmaking?
- Commitment to measuring impact, learning, and adapting to ensure progress.
- Increased transparency and accountability in our pursuit of philanthropic impact.
- More equitable distribution of resources to reduce barriers and increase equal access to opportunities.
- Increased diversity of perspectives and expertise, including leaders with lived experience.
- Greater community engagement — connecting people, resources, and ideas across sectors for a greater impact.
- Embracing promising, entrepreneurial strategies that help ignite positive change.
What issues are we exploring for High-Impact Grantmaking?
We will select our first issue area for collaborative action grantmaking by the end of 2023. Listening to trusted partners and community residents, we are narrowing down which issue area to focus on by exploring the Foundation’s potential for meaningful impact. Below are the issue areas we are currently learning more about for our first round of High-Impact Grantmaking from the Community Impact Fund (all data is sourced from UnderstandingHouston.org):
Early childhood is a critical window of opportunity to shape a child’s life trajectory and build a foundation for their future. The period from birth to three is critical for brain development as more than one million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated. Research shows that comprehensive, high-quality education programs have a 13% return on investment and produce better outcomes in education, health, sociability, economic productivity, and reduce crime among low-income children. However, 90% of low-income children live in a quality childcare desert; for every three children from low-income families, only one subsidized childcare seat is available. Additionally, Pre-K enrollment in Harris County has plummeted. We are exploring ways to strengthen and/or scale existing work for children during this pivotal period of life. Read more about early childhood and its importance to future academic readiness here.
Children who have lived in poverty for half their childhoods are nearly 90% more likely than their peers who never lived in poverty to enter their 20s without completing high school. Nearly 300,000 children under 18 in Harris County live in poverty, about one in four (24%), much higher than the national rate of 17%. Harris County – the most populous County in Texas – has the second highest child poverty rate in the state (following El Paso). The problem is worse for single mothers with children under 18 in Harris County, with 41% of such households living in poverty in 2021. We are exploring an initiative to transform access to public assistance programs primarily focused on families with children living in poverty and other opportunities for targeted impact. Learn more about our region’s poverty and social mobility struggles here.
Youth Mental Health
Nearly half of Texas high school students report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and more than one in five seriously consider attempting suicide. Locally, one out of six young people report having a major depressive episode. If mental illness in childhood and adolescence goes untreated, individuals are more likely to experience adverse outcomes as adults, such as unemployment, poverty, lower educational attainment, and worse health outcomes. We are exploring ways to support current mental health needs among youth that are not getting sufficient attention. Read more about our region’s mental health crisis here.
How can you get involved?
Calling Issue Experts!
Are you a community, nonprofit, government, philanthropic, or business leader with experience with one of the above issue areas? We want to hear from you. Please contact our Community Impact team at [email protected] to help us increase our diversity of perspectives.
Support, Learn, and Engage
Contact Tyler Murphy, Senior Advisor of Charitable Solutions, to learn more about how you can give to the Community Impact Fund or attend a donor program.
Share Your Voice
How do you feel about our direction? We want to hear from you. Please click here and submit this form to give us your feedback on our Community Impact Fund.