New Kinder HSPVA campus opens, ushering in next chapter for Houston’s talented fine arts students

Performances by students of Kinder HSPVA Ribbon Cutting – February 4, 2019. Photo credit: David DeHoyos, Class of 1981, Media Dept.

On Monday, February 4, students, alumni and supporters dedicated the new Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts campus in downtown Houston. Long-awaited and highly-anticipated, the permanent new home of Kinder HSPVA was inaugurated with a ribbon cutting, entertainment and performances by students, and remarks by the school’s principal Dr. R. Scott Allen and HISD board members in the campus’ stunning 800-seat main gathering space, the Ruth Denney Theatre.

The completed 168,000-square-foot Kinder HSPVA campus opened to students on January 7. The February 4 grand opening ceremony offered a chance to reflect on the three-year construction project which puts Houston’s diverse and talented fine arts students in the heart of the city’s theater district.

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Astronomical silt removal completed in Buffalo Bayou Park in 2018

Eighteen months after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Buffalo Bayou Park, the arduous silt removal process is mostly complete. The park’s destinations and gardens have been restored to their former glory thanks to Buffalo Bayou Partnership and its bevy of dedicated volunteers, donors, and partners, including the Kinder Foundation, which contributed $1 million to the cleanup efforts.

While the park took on historic levels of water (nearly 39 feet), its infrastructure was mostly undamaged. In fact, careful and considerate planning in the park’s design and development phase ensured Buffalo Bayou Park could withstand flooding and provide greater flood water conveyance capacity.

Buffalo Bayou rose nearly 39 feet during Hurricane Harvey.
Once the waters receded, crews began working to remove silt and repair major erosion, pictured here.




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Progress Report: HCC’s Z-Degree Program

In March 2017, the Kinder Foundation provided a grant of $300,000 to Houston Community College to help launch its Z-Degree Program, with a goal of providing a complete Associate’s Degree program without any textbook costs. The vision was a pilot program to allow students to earn either an Associates of Arts degree in business administration or an Associates of Science degree in multi-disciplinary studies. The grant also supports the program’s staffing and promotion, and the development of Open Educational Resources (OER), the online course resources. 

In just over a year, since its first semester in Fall 2017, the offerings of zero cost  text book courses has grown to 2,042 students who partake in 24 courses across the Central Campus and Northline campuses (where Year 2 courses are also offered), and at the Spring Branch and Stafford campuses. HCC is tracking the student’s academic performance, with the opportunity to review and compare the effectiveness of face-to-face versus online classes, and Z-Degree versus non-Z-Degree programs. Continue reading “Progress Report: HCC’s Z-Degree Program”

Inspiring teachers awarded Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award

On Saturday, September 22, the Kinder Foundation honored 12 difference-making Houston-area teachers at the annual Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards (KETA) dinner.

Nancy and Rich Kinder (right) with the 2018 Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award winners.


Teachers from the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston, KIPP Texas Public Schools – Houston, Teach for America-Houston, and YES Prep Public Schools were recognized for the positive impact they have had on their students and faculty and were inducted into the KETA Hall of Fame.

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The end of the school year includes the dedication of five new SPARK parks

For five local elementary schools, the excitement of the end of the school year coincided perfectly with the start of something else – the dedication of their individual SPARK parks. SPARK parks, community parks anchored by a school playground, are found in neighborhoods all across Houston, and while each and every one of those parks is a cause for celebration, May 2018’s whirlwind opening of so many parks in such a short amount of time was a notable moment even for this 35-year old non-profit.

Harvey Brown Elementary in Channelview ISD was the first in this series of dedications as they officially welcomed their park on May 17.  Dunn Elementary (Aldine ISD) followed on May 29.  Ashford Elementary (Houston ISD) and Woodview Elementary (Spring Branch ISD) shared the dedication day of May 31 before Raul Yzaguirre School for Success wrapped things up with their ribbon-cutting on the first of June.

With these five parks complete, more families will have access to a neighborhood park – modern playground equipment, trails, benches, trees, colorful flowers, and cheerful art installations can be accessed with a stroll down the street.

SPARK anticipates a 2018 tally of some 25 new parks (5 re-SPARKed parks) will be dotting the Houston-area landscape.

The exciting pace and enthusiasm with which these parks are being placed and embraced puts Houston on track toward being a more beautiful, connected place for us all.

Find a SPARK park near you.

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The Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success SPARK park features a painted bicycle track resembling a city street. Created by Reginald Adams, the track allows children to practice their bike skills and etiquette.

Urban parks are changing the landscape and lifestyles of U.S. cities

The City Parks Alliance video series, “City Parks: America’s New Infrastructure” delves into the value of greenspaces and urban parks across the U.S. The five-part series, highlights parks’ many benefits and the ways cities are reevaluating the way they incorporate parks and greenspace into city planning and development projects and goes on to examine parks as they relate to the economy, resilience, transportation, and, finally, health and social value.

In the fifth in the series, the Foundation’s Guy Hagstette discusses the long-term investment of city parks. Watch the entire series here.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, completes first phase of campus redevelopment project with inauguration of the Glassell School of Art on May 20

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today, previewed the first phase of its campus redevelopment: the new Glassell School of Art, by Steven Holl Architects, and Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, by Deborah Nevins & Associates. The School and Plaza will be inaugurated with a community day on Sunday, May 20. The Museum also announced a significant new fundraising milestone: with nearly 90 percent of the fundraising goal already achieved, an additional $25-million challenge grant has been issued by Nancy and Rich Kinder to complete the $450-million campaign. The entire project is slated for completion in two years. Read more about the campus redevelopment.


Neighborhoods are embracing the benefits of the bayou greenways and life along the bayou

Much of Houston’s natural beauty can be found along the many bayous which meander across the city.  Flanked by trees and wildflowers and home to a range of wildlife, the bayous draw city residents seeking both outdoor adventures and a scenic escape.

With a 2012 voter-approved bond and catalyst funding by the Kinder Foundation, Bayou Greenways 2020, an ambitious effort underway by the Houston Parks Board to create a linked series of greenspaces, parkland and trails along the bayous, has leapt forward. Continue reading “Neighborhoods are embracing the benefits of the bayou greenways and life along the bayou”

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

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

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. Continue reading “SPARK Parks across the city offer outdoor recreation for schools and communities alike”

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”