Wisdom of Life



Grant Recipient Partner

The Houston/Harris County Promise Zone (the Zone) collaborative will establish and implement a strategy within the Zone that incorporates the Five Promises, National Action Strategies and local initiatives, which foster youth development, drop-out intervention and prevention and community coalescence around the Zone goals. This grant is to develop a cross sector Promise Zone coalition that will create and implement a multi-year plan providing more of the Five Promises to more young people in Houston and Harris County, specifically in the Southeast area of Precinct One, and at the Julia C. Hester House.

Youth Initiatives will include:

  • Street Olympics – competitive summer athletic goal
  • Aquatics Program – swimming classes
  • Discovery Camp – explore nature through planned activities
  • Traveling Naturalist – introduction to science
  • The Polliwog Club – designed for pre-kindergarten students, it introduces scientific concepts
  • Leadership, Experience and Employment – summer jobs program

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Obesity is a growing problem in the United States and in Houston, and studies have shown that obesity disproportionately affects low-income groups, due in part to a lack of accessible, affordable and healthy food options. In Houston, nearly one-third of all children are overweight, putting them at risk for later health problems such as heart disease, sleep apnea and depression. Health education is a useful tool for preventing unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The Nutrition Program is intended to improve the nutrition and health of the community through educating the children. The JCHH Nutrition Program includes six detailed and interactive lesson plans for children. Lessons include Introduction to Nutrition – Part I &II, Hypertensions, Diabetes, Obesity, and Organic Gardening and Community Involvement.

Rice 360° Partnership

To promote healthy eating and learning in Houston’s Fifth Ward and surrounding communities, the Hester House has partnered with the Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health at Rice University to advance nutrition education in local area schools and to build a community garden to make fresh produce more accessible.

Learn more about the Rice 360° nutrition program.

Rice 360°works in partnership with communities around the world to design and implement novel and affordable technologies that prevent disease, improve health and reduce poverty. Integrating expertise in bioengineering, nanoscience, health and public policy, management, micro-entrepreneurship, and education, Rice 360° brings together highly focused technical solutions; new, sustainable systems of implementations; and the creativity of students and faculty, to improve the health of the world’s most impoverished people.

Beyond Traditional Borders is the undergraduate component of Rice 360° and is an interdisciplinary educational program that engages undergraduates from Rice University in finding solutions to the world’s most pressing health problems, with the goal of creating a new generation of globally minded leaders in the field of health technology.

Keyhole Garden/Community Garden Project

Originally developed by CARE Zimbabwe for use by the chronically ill, keyhole gardens have proven an effective way to grow vegetables year round in semi-arid climates because if its moisture retention and soil nutrient enrichment. In the South African country of Lesotho, C-SAFE has promoted keyhole gardens among populations vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity as a way to improve household resiliency to external shocks, such as drought. The raised beds of the keyhole garden, surrounded by stones, with soil/manure/hay layers adding nutrients to the soil and retaining moisture, make the keyhole garden extremely productive – even in the cold, dry winter months. Rice 360° and the Energy Forum of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy demonstrated a keyhole garden, in the summer of 2009, at JCHH to be used in concert with the JCHH Nutrition Program for year-round plantings.


Community Partner

This is a professional law fraternity advancing integrity, compassion and courage through service to the student, the school, the profession and the community. University of Houston Mock Trial Club conducted public speaking and debate workshops with teens.

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Community Partner

The Women’s Resource of Greater Houston helps women and their families to better control their destinies through improved control of their finances through financial education, philanthropic decision-making, and charitable giving. The Women’s Resource Center provides class facilitators and materials for the Financial Literacy classes offered at the Julia C. Hester House. A companion service to those who receive emergency rental/mortgage and utility assistance is a financial literacy class. Clients who receive emergency rental/mortgage and utility assistance are required to attend at least one financial literacy class in order to education them on good financial management practices. The Women’s Resource of Greater Houston provides class facilitators who conduct classes on site of JCHH. These classes prepare clients with skills that enable them to not only better manage their current income, but also help them to plan and invest in their financial futures.

Topics offered in the classes cover a range of financial subjects, such as budgeting, credit, investing and retirement planning.

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Grant Partner

Baylor College of Medicine is recognized as a premier academic health science center and is known for excellence in education, research and patient. Baylor will partner with the Julia C. Hester House in a cognitive behavior research project on anxiety and depression among older adults. This project will include health education sessions and groups facilitated by Baylor College of Medicine.

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Leadership Rice exists to encourage and equip Rice students to obtain significant leadership roles. It aims to prepare talented Rice students for leadership across the spectrum of human endeavor and to contribute to an education that equips students to make a distinctive impact in the world.

A leadership student-intern conducted research on Black/Brown relations in Houston’s Fifth Ward (see our Publications page).

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