The Kinder Foundation has awarded a $10.7 million grant to Rice University's Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC) to expand its innovative work to additional school districts in the Greater Houston region.
HERC is a research-practice partnership between Rice and the Houston Independent School District (HISD) that aims to improve the connection between education research and decision-making. The center's research has included topics such as the benefits of pre-kindergarten, the effect of teacher evaluations, the impact of school closures, and the predictors of dropping out of school. Established in 2011 and housed in Rice's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, HERC's ultimate goal is to close socio-economic gaps in achievement and attainment.
"We're extremely grateful for this opportunity to develop a regional research agenda together with school district leaders," said Ruth López Turley, HERC director, associate director for research at the Kinder Institute and a professor of sociology in Rice's School of Social Sciences. "There are many issues that can't be addressed through a single school district, but using research to collaborate across districts within the same region is promising, and having the resources to do this work is rare. This is truly a meaningful gift to children in the Houston metropolitan area."
The grant will allow HERC to continue its research with HISD while extending the center's analytical reach to several additional districts, Turley said. She said HERC will work in partnership with school district leaders to develop a research agenda focusing on issues of regional importance, such as segregation, effective curriculum and programs, and bilingual education.
"Dr. Turley represents the very best of how universities can collaboratively engage with communities to take on the world's most complex challenges. HERC has already shed light on a number of important educational topics, and this generous gift will expand HERC's good work in service to our community's children. We are grateful to our school district partners and to the Kinder Foundation for making this important work possible," said Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda.
HERC will also facilitate data sharing and disseminate research findings that can benefit the region. Finally, HERC will consult with state agencies, including the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission for supplemental data and information sharing that affects the region.
"This is an extraordinary grant not only to Rice University, but also to the entire Houston metropolitan area," said Rice President David Leebron. "Rich and Nancy Kinder's incredible support of HERC will impact lives for generations to come by addressing the area's most important education issues."
"Under the leadership of Dr. Ruth López Turley, HERC has excelled at bringing together the right decision-makers and quality analysis to improve K-12 education," said Nancy Kinder, president of the Kinder Foundation. "Broadening HERC to include more districts will have far-reaching positive implications for children growing up in the Houston region."
Turley said HERC focuses on creating a direct line of communication between education researchers and decision-makers to ensure that all children have access to a high quality education, regardless of their economic status or where they live. HERC's research agenda is shaped by the needs of local education leaders, and the decisions of these leaders are informed by the research produced by HERC and its affiliates. For more information on HERC, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/herc.
HERC is currently funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Houston Endowment. The new seven-year, $10.7 million grant marks the largest contribution the Kinder Institute has received since 2010, when it was founded with a $15 million gift from the Kinder Foundation.
The Kinder Foundation, a family foundation established in 1997 by Rich and Nancy Kinder of Houston, provides transformational grants that impact urban green space, education, and quality of life. For more information, visit http://kinderfoundation.org/.
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Houston Education Research Consortium website: http://kinder.rice.edu/herc/
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