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Department of Neighborhoods Matching Grants

Mayor Sylvester Turner, the City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods, and City Council announced the 2019-2020 Neighborhood Matching Grants Program to help neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations fund projects that improve the appearance of neighborhoods, cultivate volunteerism, and promote community pride. 

The program provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 from City Council's discretionary District Service Funds. Community-based organizations are invited to apply. To qualify, projects must involve residents, provide long-standing benefits to the community, and be accessible to the public. Applicant organizations must identify how the proposed project will be funded and supported in the future. Council members will select the winning proposals. The Neighborhood Matching Grants Program is administered by the Department of Neighborhoods in partnership with City Council offices.

The application deadline is November 1, 2019. Applications must be complete to be considered, and there will be no exceptions to the deadline. To qualify for a matching grant, applicants must be certified as a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization by the State of Texas or must secure a partnership with a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization to carry out the proposed project. Organizations funded under the program must represent a specific geographic area within Houston city limits. Click here for grant guidelines and click here for the application form.

Ion Smart Cities Accelerator Opens Office at Station Houston 

Station Houston (“Station”), Houston’s accelerator for startup technology companies, corporate innovation, and entrepreneurship, announced that its Ion Smart Cities Accelerator opened its first office space and prototyping lab on September 23. The Station Accelerator, backed by Microsoft and Intel, with programming and benefits provided by Station, TX/RX, a nonprofit makerspace, and the City of Houston, launched in September.

 A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge. People work on projects, network, and build in a makerspace. The space, at 1301 Fannin St, opened just after the Accelerator announced its first project to tackle Houston’s transportation, resiliency, and other needs, including flow of information, data analysis and engagement, and infrastructure.

The Accelerator’s inaugural project has already started working with City of Houston decision makers, mentors, and other experts to develop and refine their solutions for these needs. Startups are also engaging with the Near Northside Complete Community to more deeply understand and address community members’ specific needs. The program will culminate with a Demo Day in December 2019.

The new space includes several unique design features and capabilities including:

An on-site prototyping lab and makerspace, staffed by engineering experts who supervise the design and creation of hardware and models, support startups and their prototyping needs, and host programming and classes for the cohort, students and community members; 

An XR Lab, which features state-of-the-art virtual reality simulations and experiences to inform and engage the Smart Cities cohort and corporations seeking XR-based solutions, attract and support startup talent through connections and product development services, and host community outreach events and initiatives to develop and train Houston’s local XR community; 

A “design-thought” flexible learning and co-working space for collaboration or quiet-working that features classrooms in close proximity to the makerspace, so the Smart Cities cohort, students, and community members can enjoy increased access to equipment, capabilities, and workforce and technology education programs.

The inclusion of General Assembly, a global leader in education,  will offer robust programming focused on tech, data, design, and business, so the Smart Cities cohort, students, and community members will also be able to leverage this programming.

“The purpose of the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator is to address the needs of the Houston community by developing and deploying technology to enhance the civic fabric that makes Houston so innovative,” explains Christine Galib, Director of the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator. “It was imperative to create a space that represents the intersections of collaboration, innovation, and technology and makes these intersections accessible. Through providing expertise and programming support, Station and TX/RX were invaluable in creating this space. Netrality’s, D.I.V.A. Built’s, and CORT’s operational, design, and construction-related guidance also enabled an on-time completion for our space."
For more information click here

¡MUSICA! Hispanic Sounds in Houston

The Houston Public Library is featuring an exhibit on Hispanic contributions to Houston's music scene at the Julia Ideson Building through November 9th. View here.


Mayor's Hispanic Award Honorees

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed this year from Sunday, September 15 to Tuesday, October 15, 2019, Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board honored five exemplary Houstonians. The individuals were nominated by members of the community and selected by the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards (MHHA) Committee for their outstanding contributions toward improving the quality of life within the Houston Hispanic community. Starting at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, Mayor Turner recognized each of the honorees with proclamations during three different weekly Houston city council public meetings.

On Thursday, October 4, the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards recipients were celebrated at a reception held at the Rice Lofts. The following individuals were selected as the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month Awards recipients:

Nelly Moyano Fraga is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award. Her unwavering support for educational, cultural and civic activities has provided a greater appreciation for cultural arts, particularly among Houston youth, and has inspired countless volunteers from many other countries to form folkloric dance and music groups in Houston. Thanks to a scholarship from the Cleveland International Program for Social Workers and Youth Leaders, Fraga and other scholarship recipients were sent to various cities in the United States for the program’s field work. Fraga was assigned to Neighborhood Centers Ripley House in Houston, where she met her future husband, the honorable Felix Fraga, a former Houston city council member.

Michelle Ferrell is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Community Activist Award. She is a tireless advocate for introducing other young women to technology, as well as promoting women’s health, political engagement and representation in leadership roles. She is a third generation Houstonian raised in the communities of East End and Garden Villa. She attended Incarnate Word Academy and San Jacinto College before earning her Bachelors in Toy Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Using her expertise as a consultant in the field of technology, she founded Miso 411- UX/UI design consultancy. As an entrepreneur, she aims to create diverse and inclusive experiences and inspire school age girls and young women to learn careers in the technology field.

Dr. Pamela Anne Quiroz is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Education in the Community Award. Dr. Quiroz has dedicated her life to preserving historical documents and making contributions for the betterment of the Latino community. She is Executive Director of the Inter-University Program on Latino Research (IUPLR), a national consortium of U.S. Latino, Latin American and Latino-Caribbean university-based institutes and research centers, dedicated to the advancement of the Latino intellectual presence and scholarship. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies and Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston. Most recently, Quiroz was elected the 2020 Vice President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Jesse R. Rodriguez is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Art in the Community Award. As a native Magnolia Park resident, Rodriguez graduated from Stephen F. Austin Senior High School in 1989 and the Art Institute of Houston in 1991. He is proud of the roots his family has planted in Magnolia Park since 1929. Artistically known as Magnolia Grown, Rodriguez has made outstanding contributions to sustaining the community’s 109-year history through his passion for art. He has promoted art in Magnolia Park and served as an artistic voice for the cultivation of the community. In December 2015, he started Magnolia Grown, which began with a well-received T-shirt design that communicated the rich history of Magnolia Park through art. The artistry displayed on the shirt grew a strong following on social media and Jesse began receiving requests for Magnolia Grown merchandise. In February 2016, he had his first Magnolia Grown pop-up shop, with 25 pop-ups since then.

Irma Torres is the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award. She has dedicated her time to cultivating young leaders through her personal, professional and academic experiences. A Houston native, Torres is a senior attending DeBakey High School for Health Professions. The summer before starting high school, she volunteered over 100 hours to the Children’s Museum of Houston. She returned for the summer 2017 Discovery Squad program, where she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award, gold status.

The Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board is co-chaired by Roland Garcia and Lenora Sorola-Pohlman.