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2004 T H E



The mission of the Houston

A+ Challenge is to promote

an academically rich and

purposeful education for

more of our children and

to demonstrate how such

an education could become

possible for all our children.

Our vision is that Children will be learning at higher levels.

Teachers and staff will be well prepared to meet students’ individual educational needs.

The community will work together to support public schools.

Schools will be reorganized to use their size – including structure, resources, space and time – to create personalized learning environments.

Participating schools will become models and resources of systemic reform across districts.



2004 was a year in which Houston A+ Challenge made great strides in its mission of promoting an academically rich and purposeful education for more of our children and demonstrating how such an education could become possible for all our children. As a not-for-profit public, private partnership, the

Personalization includes interaction between

Houston A+ Challenge directs and monitors some

our staff and educators, students, parents and

of the largest contributions of private money to

community leaders. We work with a broad array

promote school reform and higher academic

of groups from corporations…to community-based

achievement in the Houston area. At the end of

organizations...to museums and foundations.

fiscal year 2004, Houston A+ Challenge provided

With the support of Houston’s business and

grants, contributions and professional development

philanthropic communities, Houston A+ Challenge

services of more than $8.7 million to improve

has been working with its partners to develop

education. The work done by Houston A+

teachers, school administrators and other educators

Challenge is unique among non-profits. We are a

as leaders in their schools and community.

one-of-a-kind resource to channel funding,

Collaboration includes Houston A+ Challenge

expertise and training directly into the classroom to

working with teachers and educators in hundreds

improve student achievement. Our extremely low

of schools in nearly a dozen school districts and

administrative costs of three percent assures that

universities throughout the region. We custom

funding is directed to where it does the most good.

tailor a variety of solutions for schools and teachers

We also hold the schools accountable for the

in efforts to improve student performance. Good

funding they receive. In 2004, for example, we

teachers make successful schools. We learn first

redirected our grant funding after multiple

hand from teachers and school administrators

leadership changes and transitions at one school

about the challenges confronting them and then

interfered with the progress of the grant.

create and provide the training, support and

Our funding is specifically targeted to areas

technical assistance so they can best meet the

proven by comprehensive research to be “best

differing needs of every student.

practices.” The school’s progress is measured with

Quality Teaching and Learning in Houston A+

benchmarks for success directly relating to student

Challenge and its staff, programs, initiatives and

academic success and achievement.

partnerships influences the lives of our children

To most effectively use those dollars in improving

as they prepare themselves for the challenges of

education, Houston A+ Challenge relies on three

the future. Our organization prides itself on setting

principles to help achieve its mission. We rely

rigorous standards that measure the success of

on personalization, collaboration and quality

our work. We conduct annual reviews of all schools

teaching and learning, which we assess through

to ensure they are meeting the goals they set

rigorous standards.

for their work when we approved their funding.

The reviews are performed by committees of

students. Another excellent example of meeting

educators and community members who are

student needs was the opening of a new type of

knowledgeable about what makes a good school.

HISD high school – the only one of its kind in

Specific areas of Houston A+ Challenge focus in

Texas. This is a school where young people can

2004 and beyond include: Redesigning high schools

graduate in just five years with both a high school

to meet the needs of our students and communities;

diploma and a Houston Community College

preparing teachers and administrators for leadership

associate’s degree. The traditional process takes six

roles both within our schools and communities;

years – four years of “free” public high school and

integrating fine arts teaching with other core

two years of college classes for which one has to

subjects; improving teachers’ math skills; and

pay. Located on a Houston Community College

influencing the future of education by a

Campus, the Challenge Early College High School is

commitment to teacher education and preparation.

a small high school with personalized instruction.

In each of these areas, we measure success and the

Challenge Early College gives students the

impact of dollars spent. And, we hold both

knowledge and skill to succeed in college or the

ourselves and schools accountable.

workforce. This new school began operation in 2003 with the collaboration of Houston ISD, HCC

HIGH SCHOOL REDESIGN The year 2004 was one where Houston A+ Challenge continued its efforts to help redesign

and Houston A+ Challenge and represents a model for future schools emphasizing personalized attention with accelerated, cost effective learning.

area high schools to meet standards that will

This year, Aldine school district joined the Alief,

become a model for additional schools. For

Humble and Spring Branch districts in our Regional

example, in Houston ISD, based on progress we

High School network. These 14 schools created

saw the year before, we continued placing literacy

special small learning communities at each location

coaches and school improvement facilitators in

to improve student achievement….so essential to

23 high schools for the second year to improve

our vision of creating personalized learning

classroom instruction. We did this through the


Houston Schools for a New Society Initiative, which

We continued to enhance our close relationships

is funded in part by The Carnegie Corporation of

with teachers and students through ongoing

New York, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

programs like the Third Annual Houston A+

Annenberg Foundation and The Brown Foundation.

Challenge/Baylor Summer Science Internships from

Nearly 400 volunteers brought more than 100

Houston ISD’s Northwest District. In addition, we

former students back to school in the “Expectation

helped place high school teachers in special extern-

Graduation Reach Out to Dropouts Day” walk that

ships with corporate partners during the summer.

resulted from our collaboration with the Houston

This program shows teachers how their lessons

school district.

connect to the business world and shows business

Also in the year, the Asia Society approached

the challenges teachers face in the classroom.

Houston A + Challenge to be a partner in creation

We partnered with the Houston Chronicle

of a new Houston ISD school focused in

to connect journalism classrooms to the world

international studies. This school is scheduled to

of reporting.

open in 2006. This represents the second of three

Through a $10,000 joint grant from the American

new high schools being created by Houston ISD

Society of Newspaper Editors, Houston Chronicle

to meet the diverse and growing needs of area

and Houston A + Challenge, journalism students at

Milby High School received new computers, printers

Additionally, we awarded seven “Teacher as

and cameras. Houston Chronicle reporters, editors

Researcher” grants to help key educators research

and columnists worked “hands on” with students.

and publicize their specialty areas, lessons learned

We also sponsored development of a new web-

and best practices.

based system that enables school districts to

We also partnered with the JP Morgan Chase

transfer student records instantly. This Web

Foundation and the Public Education Network for

Enabled Student Transcript System (WEST)

a third year of awarding grants to selected middle

replaces the tedious and time consuming transfer

school teachers to create interactive, hands-on

of paper transcripts with instantaneous electronic

classroom lessons that will become models for

transmission. WEST has spread to more than 300

other teachers and other schools. We continue to

school districts and includes more than one million

work hands-on with teachers and administrators in

student records.

programs like this to reorganize schools and create

Each of these efforts represents a step forward in redesigning school systems in a way that is more responsive to students’ needs, facilitates the learning process and best uses available resources.

structure, resources, space and time to create personalized learning environments. Teachers and school administrators value and recognize Houston A+ Challenge for what we are: a tremendous resource for them in their role


as educators.

leadership strategies and tools to administrators


and teachers through its Critical Friends Group.

In 2004, more than 200 teachers from the five

The Critical Friends Group is essential to our

participating schools were trained in “Learning

vision that teachers and staff be well prepared to

Through Art,” a Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

meet students’ individual educational needs. CFG

curriculum for integrating the arts into the content

protocols give coaches who work with teachers and

areas such as mathematics and science. In this

school administrators ways to improve key skills.

kindergarten through fifth-grade Fine Arts

As part of our partnership with Teach for America,

Initiative, that is a partnership with MFAH, teachers

Houston A + Challenge staff helped introduce the

and administrators of the fine art schools continue

Critical Friends Group training to Teach for

to meet after training to find ways to best integrate

America national representatives.

the arts with other subjects and measure success.

Our fourth New Visions in Leadership Academy

Other schools continue to join this network.

kicked off in the summer of 2004 with 37 school leaders from four school districts. The academy leaders meet for two years focusing on their role in improving student learning. Our grants help train teachers and administrators

IMPROVING STUDENT MATH SKILLS During 2004, Houston A+ Challenge in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation involved more than 10,000 area parents in a variety

and redesign school systems. In 2004, we awarded

of activities to help students achieve increased

14 grants to Houston and Humble ISDs to support

levels of achievements in mathematics. Fourteen

whole school reform and efforts to increase student

Houston ISD schools held parent outreach

achievement in math, literacy and fine arts.

programs such as Family Math Nights, Parent Math

Series and Family Adventure trips to the Children’s

College System, Texas Southern University,

Museum of Houston. Houston A+ Challenge co-

University of Houston, University of Houston-

sponsored a Family Math workshop with the

Downtown and University of St. Thomas.

Museum of Health and Medical Science. Houston A+ Challenge brought in a nationally

The Partnership for Quality Education redesigned coursework, trained teachers through our Critical

known mathematics consultant to work with

Friends Group and employed the latest technology

teachers in designing lesson plans for the best way

to help enhance the learning experience and create

to teach specific math topics and best analyze

a personalized learning environment. Houston A+

students’ work. Math specialists also received

created a Regional Faculty to bring together

advanced training and implemented a professional

outstanding educators to develop a P-16 and

development program for Houston ISD elementary

above system through higher education and school

teachers. Math training specialists also created a

district collaboration…helping fulfill our mission

special parent training course on geometry that

to promote an academically rich and purposeful

began its pilot program at the Halpin Early

education for more of our children and to

Childhood Center.

demonstrate how such and education could become

Houston A+ Challenge is using innovation, crea-

possible for all our children.

tivity and close collaboration with teachers to better prepare student math skills…so essential to success.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: Transformation of Higher Education Through Teacher Preparation 2004 was the fourth year that Houston A+

THANK YOU FOR HELPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE Houston A+ continues to pursue our vision of children learning at higher levels through our collaboration with teachers, administrators, schools, parents and the community. Our efforts are leading to systematic reform across districts…creating a

Challenge participated in the Partnership for

personalized learning environment so essential to

Quality Education, a program to redesign teach

student success and achievement. Participating

preparation courses at five area colleges and

schools become models and resources for reform.

universities in cooperation with the school districts

We thank each and every donor, teacher and

of Alief, Aldine, Houston, Humble, North Forest

administrator. Your contributions and commitment

and Spring Branch. These higher education

make our work to improve the educational

institutions include: the Houston Community

system possible.

Harry M.Reasoner Chairman of the Board

Michele Pola, Ed.D. Executive Director

What nobler employment, or more valuable than that person who instructs the rising generation? Cicero, 78 B.C.

HOUSTON A+ CHALLENGE 2003-2004 FOCUSED IMPACT GRANT Houston A+ created The Focused Impact Grant for original Lamplighter and Beacon schools that were not currently receiving funding from the Houston A+ Challenge. Eligible schools made initial applications for five-year grants, pending the successful annual completion of requirements and measurable progress toward stated goals and objectives.

Leadership By the end of 2003, New Visions in Leadership Academy, which began in 2000, had 115 graduates with 24 percent of those graduating receiving a promotion after completion of training. Thirty-six additional fellows graduated from the 2004 class of the leadership academy in June.


In the 2003-2004 school year, Houston A+ offered Critical Friends Group training twice to Houston-area educators. Seventeen educators participated in the spring seminar, and 73 educators participated in the summer seminar, both of which were facilitated by local coaches and Houston A+ staff. In the 2003-2004 (including the summer of 04) school year, Houston A+ Challenge has provided the Critical Friends Group new coach training to almost 700 educators.


Six clinics for new and experienced Critical Friend Group coaches were held during the 2003-2004 academic year. Houston A+ Challenge secured funding to offer the clinics at no cost to participants. One hundred and nineteen coaches and facilitators participated in these clinics. The Houston A+ Challenge awarded seven Teacher as Researcher Grants to Critical Friends Group coaches in May 2004. The grant supports this group with $10,000 over a two-year period.

8th Annual Fondren Reforming School Summer Institute More than 250 teachers, administrators, parents and community representatives participated in the institute to gather and share information concerning school reform. Participants rated the workshop sessions at a very high level and were particularly complimentary concerning sessions that introduced tools and processes that can be used to accelerate school reform. The majority of participants had never attended a conference focusing on school reform.


High School Reform / High School Redesign Initiative


Houston Schools for a New Society is working to restructure all 23 comprehensive Houston ISD high schools into more personalized learning environments to provide the skills and knowledge students need for the 21st century workplace. As of May 2004, Houston Schools for a New Society facilitated restructuring of 17 of 24 schools. Challenge Early College High School opened in August of 2003. Its principal, Anne McClellan, was chosen in part because she was principal of a Houston A+ Challenge Beacon school.

Empowerment College Prep was planned in 2003-2004 to open in Fall 2004. The Empowerment principal, Misha Lesley, was chosen in part because she previously worked as a school improvement facilitator as part of Houston Schools for a New Society. In the 2003-04 school year, the Alief, Humble and Spring Branch school districts applied to launch the Houston A+ Challenge Regional Network for High School Redesign. Literacy Coach training took place at the Neuhaus Education Center in 2003. This training was made possible by a $25,000 contribution from The Powell Foundation that trained 27 Literacy Coaches. The piloted teacher externship program allowed 12 teachers from Reagan High School to job shadow and receive mentoring to help them connect student coursework with the workplace. During the year, Houston A+ Challenge also partnered with the Houston Chronicle and Milby High School to give journalism students real-world experience. Summer Science Internship Program with the Baylor College of Medicine included students from three high schools and resulted in a year-round partnership to improve the quality of science education.

Kindergarten through 5th Grade Fine Arts In its first year of operation, the Fine Arts Initiative supported five participating schools to train 200 teachers in Learning Through Art, a program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Test Results Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills/K-5 Fine Arts (Percent of Students that met TAKS standards) 2004


Aldine Elementary Aldine ISD

READING 79.66% 87.22%

MATH 79.18% 88.22%

READING n/a 74.73%

MATH n/a 72.30%

Neff Elementary Houston ISD

86.72% 78.76%

94.89% 79.28%

79.47% 66.17%

78.65% 60.68%

Pineforest Elementary Humble ISD

95.42% 89.55%

85.85% 86.92%

85.82% 81.97%

80.66% 74.93%

Pine Shadows Spring Branch ISD

84.24% 87.88%

87.15% 91.38%

62.19% 80.34%

66.67% 78.58%

Cumulative for Schools





Cumulative for Districts





Kindergarten through 5th Grade Math As part of the K-5 Math Initiative, schools reported that 10,630 parents participated in a wide variety of activities offered by math specialists including Back Pack Math, which was used by 6,270 parents. Other activities included Children’s Museum family math visits, Family Math Nights, math/literature fairs, Math Make and Take, Moms and Math, parent TAKS talks, math pot luck dinners, combined parent/coordinator/specialist programs and problem solving and measurement training.

The 15 math specialists presented 1,580 hours of professional development for Houston ISD elementary teachers both on and off their campuses and at two national conferences. This included 800 hours of teacher in-service seminars attended by 2,540 teachers and 780 hours of grade level meetings on campus. Specialists also facilitated at the Spring Math Summit, open to all elementary schools in Houston ISD’s West Central and Southwest districts. Specialists also logged 3,160 hours in long and short term co-teaching sessions at the 14 initiative schools throughout the year. As of the 2003-2004 school year, 15 schools in the Southwest and West Central districts participated in the K-5 Math Initiative. In addition, the Northwest District began offering its teachers the same professional development used in the Initiative for math specialists. Test Results Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills/K-5 Math (Percent of Students Passing Math TAAS/TAKS Weighted Average) 2000



2003 TAKS


Three-Year Schools






All Project Schools






Non-Project Schools






Three-Year Schools: Anderson, Argyle, Elrod, Foerster, Fondren, Halpin, Milne, Red All Project Schools: the three-year schools and Benavidez, Rodriguez*, Shearn, Sutton, Tinsley* All Non-Project Schools: Bell, Braeburn, Condit, Cunningham, Gordon, Gross*, Herod, Horn, Kolter, Longfellow, Lovett, Parker, Sugar Grove, Valley West

Partnership for Quality Education Alief ISD saved an estimated $45,000 by hiring nine students as new teachers who had been trained by University of Houston-Downtown and the district through the Partnership for Quality Education initiative. Texas A&M used materials developed during the redesign of the political science courses by the Partnership for Quality Education design teams. Graduates of the Houston Community College Accelerated Certification Program have a 95 percent pass rate and 98 percent pass rate on the professional component and content component, respectively, of the state teachers certification exam. Houston Community College developed this program as part of the Partnership for Quality Education.


Houston A+ Challenge thanks all who made financial contributions between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004.

$4 Million

$999 and under

The Annenberg Foundation

Jeffrey and Tara Null Heimbinder Family Foundation Andy Snelson Enterprises, Inc. John W. Lodge III City of Houston Combined Municipal Campaign Jason and Lori Heuring Barbara R. Hurwitz Elizabeth D. Williams *J. W. Marriot Audrey T. MacLean Dr. and Mrs. Peter K. Thompson Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund Michaelann Kelley Nita Sane Roy M. Huffington TSC Engineering Company Nicole M. Buergers Margaret Lotterhos Smith Caroline and Thomas Peterson Col. L. B. Wilby

$2 Million and above Carnegie Corporation of New York/ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation The Brown Foundation


$1 Million and above Houston Endowment Inc.


$100,000 to $150,000 ExxonMobil Foundation Cullen Foundation M.D. Anderson Foundation The Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation


$50,000 to $75,000 The Fondren Foundation U.S. Department of Education The Bank of America Foundation The Powell Foundation

$20,000 to $40,000 *WEDGE Group Inc. Public Education Network


$10,000 to $19,999 The Simmons Foundation Jenard and Gail Gross What Kids Can Do, Inc.


$1,000 to $5,000 *Houston Chronicle Education Commission of the States The Samuels Foundation Friedman Foundation Coca-Cola Bottling Companies The Newfield Foundation Wells Fargo William J. Hill

* Denotes in-kind contribution

The following information was extracted from financial statements that were audited by an independent accounting firm. A complete set of audited financial statements is available upon request. Houston A+ Challenge is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization.




JUNE 30, 2004

JUNE 30, 2003

Grants and Contributions Donated Use of Facilities Interest Income Training Fees

$5,067,779 37,162 72,362 47,950

$10,399,843 68,360 74,887 58,802

Total Revenue



Program Services Administration Fundraising

8,705,188 167,498 96,027

8,677,153 134,934 159,246

Total Expenses







INterest income 1% Training Fees 1% Donated Use of Facilities 1%



Changes in Net Assets

Grants and Contributions 97%




S TAT E M E N T S O F F I N A N C I A L P O S I T I O N AS OF JUNE 30, 2004 AND 2003 $6,866,386 25,159,780 39,668



Grants Payable Other Payables

$4,167,655 345,530

$3,120,418 505,282

Total Liabilities Net Assets

4,513,185 24,696,674

3,625,700 28,440,134



Total Liabilities and Net Assets

Administration 2%


Total Assets

Fundraising 1%


Cash and Cash Equivalents $9,559,478 Grants Receivable 19,612,793 Other Assets 37,588

Program Services 97%



It is an axiom in political science that unless a people are educated and enlightened it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty or the capacity of self government. Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836

THE HOUSTON A+ CHALLENGE Board of Trustees Harry M. Reasoner, Chairman Partner, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. Joe Foster, President Founder, Newfield Exploration Company Ann Friedman, Ph.D., Secretary Adjunct Professor, University of Houston Board Members Jack S. Blanton President, Eddy Refining Company Leonel J. Castillo City Hall, Mayor’s Office Jonathan Day Managing Partner Andrews & Kurth, Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, L.L.P. David A. French Division Vice President & General Manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. Roberto Gonzalez Vice President, Employment & Training Centers, Inc. H. Devon Graham, Jr. President, R.E. Smith Interests Jenard M. Gross President/Owner, Gross Investments Steven L. Miller Chairman & President, SLM Discovery Ventures Inc. Karol Musher, M.A., CCC-SLP Speech & Language Pathologist, Texas Children’s Hospital Maconda Brown O'Connor, Ph.D. Chairman, The Brown Foundation, Inc. J. Victor Samuels Chairman, Victory Packaging, Inc. Yava D. Scott Community Volunteer H. Michael Tyson Vice Chairman (retired), Texas Commerce Bank Andrea White Community Volunteer Randa Duncan Williams President, Enterprise Products Company C r e d i t s: Editor Nan Powers Varoga Writer Keith Schmidt Designer Henry Hunt/New Pencil Design www.houstonaplus.org

Rosie Zamora President, Houston Wilderness, Inc. Executive Director Michele Pola, Ed.D.



formerly The Houston Annenberg Challenge

1415 LOUISIANA, BOX 9 HOUSTON, TX 77002 713.658.1881 / 713.739.0166 (FAX) WWW.HOUSTONAPLUS.ORG

Profile for Houston A+ Challenge

2004 Annual Report  

Houston A+ Challenge's 2004 Annual Report

2004 Annual Report  

Houston A+ Challenge's 2004 Annual Report