The United Way of Greater Houston awarded the Education Research Center at Texas A&M University with a $300,000 grant to continue its evaluation of the agency's urban education initiative. Image credit: United Way Greater Houston

The Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $300,000 grant by United Way of Greater Houston (UWGH) to conduct the Year 4 evaluation of the agency’s urban education initiative. This fourth phase of the evaluation examines a scaled-up version of UWGH’s urban education initiative, which involves over 30 nonprofit agency programs that deliver educational services for more than 300,000 children and youth from disadvantaged circumstances in the Houston metropolitan area. Hersh Waxman, Yolanda Padrón, and Kayla Rollins are Co-PIs of the project. Additional ERC researchers involved include Nancy Weber, Jackie Stillisano, and Anna Boriack. CEHD doctoral students Kim Wright, Luke Lyons, Rachel Beachy, and Elba Barahona are also involved in the grant.

The Education Initiative is an outgrowth of the efforts of a task force of Houston community leaders recruited by UWGH to identify various means by which the organization could support and impact the work of the city’s school districts.  For this project, the ERC team will work with the UWGH staff to design and implement the evaluation and report on the success of the UWGH Education Initiative.

The evaluation team will develop data collection instruments (rubrics, surveys, observation protocols, etc.) to collect context, process, implementation, and outcome data on the following UWGH’s education programs to be implemented within local schools:

  • Peer-to-Peer Reading tutoring
  • Education Collaborative, including summer grants: Summer Learning Loss, School-Based Transitions, Kindergarten Prep Camp, and Summer Book Clubs
  • United Way Reading Together
  • Parent Education and Engagement
  • Math Summer Learning and Engagement: Math Camp 2.0, Investment Clubs/Stock Market Game, and United Way MATH Minutes
  • Peer-to-Peer Math tutoring
  • Development of Online Modules for Reading Together Volunteers.

Additionally, the ERC team will analyze academic achievement and socio-emotional data for students involved in UWGH programs at schools and community agencies involved in the Education Collaborative.  This initiative will include data from four large school districts in the Houston area, including Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Aldine ISD, and Alief ISD.

“This is an exciting project for us because of the partnerships we’ve developed with several large, urban school districts; nonprofit agencies such as the Houston Area Urban League, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, Children’s Museum of Houston, and Project GRAD; and United Way staff," said Waxman.  "The partnership is strongly committed to improving students’ academic achievement and socio-emotional outcomes. We anticipate that some of the promising practices emerging from the United Way Initiative will be diffused more rapidly and refined by other urban districts because of the improvement science approach ERC researchers have adopted and implemented for prior and current phases of this study.”

The ERC research team will implement a mixed-methods approach for both formative and summative purposes. They will provide information and suggestions for making mid-project changes to assist UW in improving its efforts throughout the year. The summative evaluation will examine the effectiveness of educational programs and practices. The ERC will continue its work in developing a longitudinal, databased system to be used to describe the quality and effectiveness of the educational programs on students, teachers, parents, and the community as a whole. Systematic observations, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and quantitative outcome data will be used to examine various program components.

This article was originally published by the College of Education and Human Development.

Texas A&M Foundation 
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities. 

You can support the Education Research Center with a gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation. For additional information about how to benefit the College of Education and Human Development, contact Jody Ford ’99 with the Foundation at (800) 392-3310, (979) 847-8655 or


Jody Ford '99

Senior Director of Development
College of Education and Human Development
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