Philanthropies issue $6 million matching challenge to help reach $34 million goal

HOUSTON – Good Reason Houston, a nonprofit founded to increase the number of students learning in great public schools, was recently awarded two $10 million grants from Houston Endowment and from Kinder Foundation, Houston-based philanthropies championing education. Each foundation’s grant includes $3 million in matching funds to encourage the business and philanthropic communities to invest in this unique opportunity to improve school performance in the region.

In August, our local schools will receive letter grades from the Texas Education Agency, and assuming no significant changes, over 300,000 of our students will be learning in schools rated C, D or F.

Good Reason Houston aims to change this reality and has set an ambitious goal of 60,000 more students learning in A and B public schools by the end of the 2025-26 school year. Phase I of this goal aims to deliver 10,000 more students in high-performing schools by the end of the 2020-21 school year. The total cost of Phase I is estimated at $61 million. The $20 million investment from Houston Endowment and Kinder Foundation lays the groundwork toward Good Reason Houston’s private fundraising goal of $34 million. The remaining balance will come from public funds.

“This new funding from Houston Endowment and Kinder Foundation serves as a catalyst to inspire other philanthropists to seize this energy, momentum and opportunity to ensure a future where every child, in every neighborhood, excels in a world-class public school,” said Alex Hales Elizondo, founding CEO of Good Reason Houston.

Good Reason Houston was launched in January 2018 with seed funding of two $4.2 million grants from Houston Endowment and from Kinder Foundation as they aimed to create an organization to champion a bold, optimistic vision for our region.

“We have reason to be optimistic about the future of public education in Houston; however, it will require our whole community to come together to ensure that all our students have the opportunity to excel in a great school,” said Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment and board chair of Good Reason Houston.

Added Nancy Kinder, president and CEO of Kinder Foundation and board member of Good Reason Houston, “We invite our peers, community leaders, educators and parents to support us in addressing educational inequities and propelling Houston to the forefront of education innovation.”

To achieve the Phase I goal, Good Reason Houston is partnering with traditional and charter districts in the Houston area that primarily serve students identified as economically disadvantaged. The organization brings best practices, financial resources, and staff time and expertise to local school systems to support them in implementing strategies that will improve existing schools and create new, high-performing ones.

For instance, this year, Good Reason Houston will support Aldine ISD with the implementation of the Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) model in two of its elementary schools. The model brings a district’s most effective educators to some of its most struggling schools and has been proven in north Texas to dramatically improve student outcomes.

With the foundations’ grants, Good Reason Houston will continue to expand by partnering with more area school districts to implement innovative solutions, including providing strategic professional development for educators, replicating some of the region’s high-performing schools, and creating new school models within districts.