Monday, February 9, 2015

City Connections Grant Helps At-Risk Students Go to College

Houston City Council Member Brenda Stardig and Center for Afterschool, Summer
and Expanded Learning (CASE for Kids) Director Lisa Thompson-Caruthers present
a check for $5,000 to Executive Director of CollegeCommunityCareer, Kathy Rose.
For first generation, low-income students, the journey to college can be a struggle. Many lack support from parents through the application and financial process. According to USA Today, nationally 89 percent of low-income, first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree.

Students at Spring Woods and Northbrook high schools in Spring Branch Independent School District have the opportunity to receive extra help and encouragement in preparation for college thanks to a grant for their afterschool program, CollegeCommunityCareer.

CollegeCommunityCareer received $5,000 in the first wave of funding from the City Connections initiative with the City of Houston and Center for Afterschool, Summer and Expanded Learning (CASE for Kids) for its college preparation programs at the two Spring Branch campuses. Kathy Rose, executive director of CollegeCommunityCareer, says the grant will help fund civic engagement programs for their students.

“We will perform a community service project at a nonprofit location as well as expose our students to a cultural event such as the symphony, ballet, or theater by attending an event this spring,” said Rose.

The program meets weekly at each campus to teach teambuilding skills, prepare for the SAT, and complete college admissions and financial aid applications. Students also have the opportunity to tour college campuses and visit professionals in the workplace.

Students start in CollegeCommunityCareer’s program as high school sophomores and continue to receive mentoring until they obtain a four-year degree from a university. To enroll, they must be a first-generation student on the recommended or distinguished achievement high school graduation plan, and qualify for the free/reduced meal program.

In Spring Branch ISD, the partnership is helping reach the district’s goal to double the number of graduates successfully completing a two-year or four-year degree, technical certificate or military training.

“Grant funding for CollegeCommunityCareer partnership efforts at Spring Woods and Northbrook High Schools is a game-changer for our students who will be served by this important program,” said Linda Buchman, Community Relations Officer for Spring Branch ISD. “The opportunity for rich, well-planned and comprehensive college and career readiness activities will build within them the hope, the skills and the preparation necessary for them to achieve their dreams of higher education.”

City Connections is an initiative spearheaded by Houston City Councilmember C.O. Bradford last summer and CASE for Kids. The out-of-school time funding is intended to help fight juvenile crime and to promote child safety during the hours of 3-6 p.m. during the school year when parents are working and in the summertime. The funding is especially needed due to decreased state and federal funding streams which previously supported afterschool locally.

CASE for Kids promotes and administers the City Connections program. The City of Houston Parks and Recreation Program assists in the application process.

Grant applications for the afterschool funding continue to be accepted through April 6, 2015. Awards are announced on the first Monday of each month. To apply for City Connections funding, go to and access CASE for Kids City Connections. Call 713-696-1331 for more information.

About the Center for Afterschool, Summer and Expanded Learning (CASE) for Kids
CASE for Kids, formerly the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment, was launched by Harris County Department of Education in 1999. CASE for Kids is an after-school intermediary which leverages community resources and strengthens the capacity of the out-of-school time field. Services benefit approximately 11,000 kids in greater Harris County. CASE for Kids programs happen before and after school, on weekends and during the summer. Go to for information.

About Harris County Department of Education (HCDE)
HCDE provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at


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