SPARK Parks across the city offer outdoor recreation for schools and communities alike

As the mild temperatures of spring in Texas tempt most everyone outside, students in schools within the Pasadena suburbs have even more reason to want to get out and play – nine SPARK parks have been unveiled or are in stages of development just outside classroom doors.

In 2016, the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment gifted SPARK, a non-profit which develops parks and greenspaces on school grounds, $5 million to bring parks and playgrounds to neighborhoods across the region. Today, many of these much-anticipated parks are now a reality.

Dr. DeeAnn Powell, superintendent of schools for Pasadena ISD noted that when many of their schools were designed, playgrounds simply weren’t able to be a priority due to cost, regulations, and maintenance issues – despite the known benefits of playing outside on the development of children.

“Playing outside, the students are so happy,” said Powell. “They are building relationships and exercising and there is an impact on academics.”

From award announcement to completion, the process of designing and building a new park takes approximately nine to 12 months.  The schools typically hold fundraisers to contribute to their park and are involved in guiding the look and feel of the space.

“The parks are very personal to each school,” said Powell.

The impact of these parks, which may feature walking tracks, trails and trees, extend beyond the school day and are envisioned to be true community spaces providing a welcoming destination where grandparents can play with grandchildren during a weekend visit or parents of younger kids can let their toddlers explore the outdoors. Driving past several of her district’s schools during the recent spring break, Powell noticed families using the parks, proof they truly are adding value to the community beyond school hours, just as they were intended.

Additional SPARK parks in the Aldine, Fort Bend, and Spring Branch school districts will open in Spring 2018. Read more about SPARK.

The SPARK Park at Pasadena ISD’s Jessup Elementary School was dedicated in November 2017.










Empowering students at Yellowstone Academy


Yellowstone Academy is the premier school in Houston’s historic Third Ward. At Yellowstone, students receive an education that cultivates their intellect, nourishes their spirit, and empowers them to capitalize on their potential to create a fulfilling future.

Last summer, thanks in part to a $400,000 gift from the Kinder Foundation, Yellowstone closed out its $3.1 million Bridge Campaign, a fundraising effort to support the board’s comprehensive strategic plan enabling the school to offer its educational model to even more families in the Greater Third Ward community, by:  Continue reading “Empowering students at Yellowstone Academy”

Planting roots: a SPARK Park Desert Initiative update


In September 2016, the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment gifted SPARK, a Houston-based no

SPARK Park at Clear Creek ISD’s Wedgewood Elementary.

n-profit that develops neighborhood parks on school grounds, with $5 million to increase park equity in greater Houston over the next three years. Specifically, the grant was given to impact neighborhoods in ‘park deserts’ across the region by adding and/or transforming green spaces at 30 schools in 12 independent school districts.

Just over a year later, by the close of 2017, 22 of the 30 schools have been identified, and eight will have been dedicated. Continue reading “Planting roots: a SPARK Park Desert Initiative update”

Strong public-private partnerships key to rebuilding after Harvey

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Public-private partnerships like Buffalo Bayou Park provide roadmap for recovery

By: Rich and Nancy Kinder

We all should be proud of our elected officials, community leaders and citizens, who stepped up to the challenge of Harvey’s aftermath. Houston is adept at weathering the storm and quickly launching into the arduous task of cleaning up. We now must prove to ourselves and the world that we are going to recover as an even better place to live, work and play.

This is a pivotal time for our city. We have the opportunity to forge a new quality of life that is even more resilient and underscores who we know we are – a visionary, 21st-century city. Now is the time to plan for an even better Houston.

Let’s think big.

Continue reading “Strong public-private partnerships key to rebuilding after Harvey”

$5.3 Million Raised and Growing Hourly for United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund to Help Those Devastated by Harvey

From United Way of Greater Houston:

HOUSTON (Aug. 29, 2017) – Even as the flooding and evacuations continue in the Greater Houston area, donations to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund are growing hour by hour from an outpouring of community support.  Kinder Foundation, global energy company Anadarko, Houston Texans and NFL Foundation have each donated $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund to help those in our community most impacted by Hurricane Harvey’s devastating effects.

To give to the United Way Flood Relief Fund, visit or text UWFLOOD to 41444.


“Rich and I are inspired by the way Houstonians support each other during a disaster.  We have confidence our city will come through this challenge and will be even stronger,” states Nancy Kinder, President, Kinder Foundation.  “We hope our gift will inspire others to join in the relief fund. We also want to acknowledge Mayor Turner, Judge Emmett and our state and federal leaders who have worked so hard to support Houston during this phenomenal weather event.”

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The Rededication of Historic Emancipation Park

Buffalo Soldiers Houston presentation of Colors.

On June 17, during Houston’s annual Juneteenth celebration, Emancipation Park was rededicated in front of thousands of Third Ward residents. KHOU’s Len Cannon and ABC 13’s Melanie Lawson emceed the affair, which officially commemorated the historic park’s $33.6 million renovation.

Continue reading “The Rededication of Historic Emancipation Park”

MFAH breaks ground on Nancy and Rich Kinder building

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On May 31, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston broke ground on the Nancy and Rich Kinder building for modern and contemporary art. The 165,000-square-foot structure is part of the 14-acre redesign of the Museum’s Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. 

Groundbreaking for the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. From L to R: Chris McVoy, architect; Anne Duncan, vice chair, board of trustees; Nancy Kinder; Gary Tinterow, MFAH director; Richard D. Kinder, chair, board of trustees; Steven Holl, architect. Photo by Wilson Parish.












Continue reading “MFAH breaks ground on Nancy and Rich Kinder building”

“From Rendering to Reality: The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park”


Buffalo Bayou Partnership has proudly debuted From Rendering to Reality: The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park, a chronicle of and homage to the history, people, and vision behind Buffalo Bayou Park.

With a grant from the Kinder Foundation, the 100+ page, years-in-the-making book captures the legacy of the park in a beautiful and informative coffee table book. Readers will hear from those instrumental in Buffalo Bayou Park’s inception and completion, and enjoy stunning photography of the park’s most beloved offerings.

From Rendering to Reality: The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park can be purchased at Buffalo Bayou Park’s Visitor Centers at The Water Works and Lost Lake or online at

Taking Houstonians’ pulse on traffic, crime, immigration and more


Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research released its annual Kinder Houston Area Survey on May 1. Among the findings was this point of pride for our city: the majority of Houston residents would choose to stay in the Bayou City even if given a choice to move. The 36th annual survey also revealed that traffic continues to be the dominant concern, people are less worried about crime, and are increasingly supportive of immigration and gay rights.

To read more about Houstonians’ views on life in the Houston area, crime, jobs and education, demographics, and social issues, click here.

How A $10.7 Million Grant Will Improve Education In Houston

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How can Houston’s education pipeline produce a strong workforce?

Ruth N. López Turley, Director of Houston Education Research Consortium

What’s the best way to address segregation facing Houston-area schools?

How can we improve bilingual education in one of the most diverse parts of the country?

And how can we develop programs that serve all students in metro Houston, even as the region faces rising levels of concentrated poverty?

Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research will explore the answers to those types of questions, and more, thanks to a $10.7 million, seven-year grant from the Kinder Foundation announced today. Continue reading “How A $10.7 Million Grant Will Improve Education In Houston”