Houston Endowment has awarded $7 million to Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research to greatly expand its research capacity and ability to help solve the most pressing challenges facing Houston and cities across the U.S. Sun Belt.
The three-year, $7 million grant marks the largest contribution the Kinder Institute has received since 2010, when it was founded with a $15 million gift from Houston philanthropists Rich and Nancy Kinder.
"This extraordinary grant is a remarkable gift not only to Rice University, but to the people of Houston," Rice President David Leebron said. "It will help enable Rice and the Kinder Institute to realize our ambitions not only to use data and sophisticated analysis to better understand the challenges that Houston and other cities are facing, but to formulate and help implement the needed solutions. Contributing to Houston in this way and others is central to our mission as a university, and we are extremely grateful for this generous support."
"This grant represents the very best kind of partnership between Rice, Houston and the philanthropic community," Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda said. "The platforms and projects that the grant supports will enable the very best thinking – and action – around making Houston a yet more vibrant city. It will also position Houston and Rice to model the way for communities across the United States and internationally to forge creative solutions to pressing urban issues related to education, health care, equality of opportunity, vibrancy, governance, transportation and the environment."
"The Kinder Institute plays a crucial role not only in providing data that illuminates our challenges, but also in advancing potential solutions for the complex issues facing our community," said Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment. "The foundation's investment will support a number of programs aimed at building a stronger city and improving quality of life for Houston's residents."
Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute, said the research funded by this grant should enable the institute to achieve its long-term goals. "This support will help Houston become a better city and will enable the Kinder Institute to become a nationally and internationally prominent urban think tank by 2018," he said.
The grant will support the Kinder Institute in developing the following major new areas of research and outreach:
The Urban Data Platform is a first-of-its-kind effort to compile, organize and analyze a wide variety of data across many disciplines, focusing on critical issues facing the city of Houston and the Houston metro area. The grant will complement the Rice Board of Trustees' recent decision to launch a $43.6 million data-science initiative and a $57.4 million effort to increase Rice's research competitiveness. The program also builds on the 2015 data-sharing agreement between Rice and the city of Houston, as well as their participation in the newly formed Metro Lab Network. The data housed within the platform will allow researchers and policymakers at Rice, in Houston and beyond to engage in cross-disciplinary research on a wide range of urban problems in Houston, combining data sets in new ways to find new insights.
The Urban Development, Transportation and Placemaking Program will work to ensure that Houston's most rapidly urbanizing areas are transforming in ways that benefit the region and its residents. This will include a new study of the region's shifting land-use patterns to better understand the types of housing being built and its effects on gentrification inside the Loop and on the suburbanization of poverty.
The Urban and Metropolitan Governance Program will focus on emerging governance issues in the Houston metropolitan area and work to implement the most promising solutions. The program will also focus on the surrounding counties and the various management, taxation and utility districts in this region.
The Urban Disparity and Opportunity Program will analyze one of the most pressing urban issues of modern times and develop evidence-based solutions to address it. The institute will begin by documenting geographic patterns of disparity across the Houston region, building on research from the Kinder Institute's programs in urban health and education.
The Urban Outreach/Convening Program will focus on ensuring that the Kinder Institute's research and policy ideas are implemented with the collaboration of partners in Houston. The program will also convene major stakeholders in Houston on critical issues that require discussion to reach consensus.
The Houston Endowment grant will also complement and strengthen three existing and well-established programs: the Kinder Houston Area Survey, the Urban Health Program and the Houston Education Research Consortium. In addition, the funding will enable the institute to fill at least 10 new full-time positions, including technical, research, program and editorial staff.
Established in 2010, the Kinder Institute is a "think and do" tank that advances understanding of the challenges facing Houston and other urban centers through research, policy analysis and public outreach. By collaborating with civic and political leaders, the Kinder Institute aims to help Houston and other cities.
Houston Endowment is a private philanthropic institution that works across the community to create change for the people of Houston. With assets of over $1.7 billion, the foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations totaling approximately $85 million each year. Established by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones in 1937, Houston Endowment has a rich legacy of addressing some of Houston's most compelling needs. Today the foundation continues efforts to create a vibrant community where all have the opportunity to thrive.
For more information on the Kinder Institute, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/.
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Kinder Institute for Urban Research website: http://kinder.rice.edu/
Houston Endowment website: http://www.houstonendowment.org/
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,888 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.