Mayor Annise Parker utilizes UH
Mayor Annise Parker’s new city plans include many initiatives for all levels of education, and as more play out, her office is becoming more interested in how UH programs might fit in with the city’s and the Department of Neighborhoods’ educational goals.
“Every child deserves a good education and a bright future,” Parker said. “The city is committed to creating strong partnerships with local schools, colleges, universities and community agencies to help our students ﬁnish high school and steer them toward career training and college. This includes connecting parents to the support services and resources they need to help their children succeed. Children are our future leaders and workforce, and we must do all that we can to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities.”
The Mayor’s Ofﬁce of Education Initiatives is exploring the different options to allow students to enter internships and get real world experience, according to Mark Cueva, the initiative’s division manager.
“We’ve had a couple of summers where we’ve been working with this internship model, to kind of understand how we can get the most out of these project-based internships,” Cueva said. “One of the things we might be able to do with (UH) in terms of semester-based or semester-long projects are classes with internships.”
Cueva wants to strengthen his afﬁliation with the UH entrepreneurial center and the entrepreneurial section of the C.T. Bauer College of Business. A new initiative is intended to bring together city resources and offer support to local entrepreneurs, Cueva said.
“We’re collaborating on this new initiative with neighborhood centers and community colleges … and looking for ways where we can support local entrepreneurs,” Cueva said. “We want to try to make all these resources a little more transparent.”
The Mayor’s plans include goals to unite students with their communities, which would include working alongside UH programs.
“We would love to reach out to the Student Government Association to see how we can partner in reaching out to the communities around UH,” said Nelson Espitia, division manager of the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Ofﬁce, “because it is about awareness and creating a close and vibrant community, and that is something that Mayor Annise Parker has emphasized since she took ofﬁce.”
Although security issues are more aligned with the Houston Police Department, the Department of Neighborhoods is ﬁnding new ways to unite UH and the surrounding areas to create a safer environment, Espitia said.
“From the Department of Neighborhoods’ standpoint, certainly we’re raising awareness — not only for the university body, but also for the surrounding communities — because once you’ve bridged the gap, they are your neighbors. … Put a name to a face, and the community is really inspired when they see young people engaged,” Espitia said.
As the mayor and her staff expand their college and career planning program, they emphasize educating the public on financial aid and student loans. Although this initiative is directed primarily at high school students, the idea is to try to connect people directly to resources via a FASA Outreach Program and also to connect people to financial literacy resources, according to Cueva.
The mayor’s third annual Back-to-School Fest was held in August at UH. This exemplified plans to introduce first-generation families to a college setting and engage current and prospective college students and parents in order to educate them about resources that can help them, according to Espitia.
“We would love to have the mayor’s fourth annual Back-to-School Fest at UH again, if (UH) will have us,” Espitia said.