Houston Endowment Gives $455,000 to Protect Galveston Bay, TX

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Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) announced today that Houston Endowment has approved a $455,000 grant that will enable them to provide the Galveston Bay Report Card for another two years.

Houston Area Nonprofits Receive $455,000 Grant from Houston Endowment to Provide Galveston Bay Report Card for Two More Years

Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) announced today that Houston Endowment has approved a $455,000 grant that will enable them to provide the Galveston Bay Report Card for another two years.

The Galveston Bay Report Card, which was first released in 2015, informs residents in Southeast Texas and the Greater Houston‐Galveston Region about the environmental quality of Galveston Bay. Updated annually and released every August, the Galveston Bay Report Card summarizes data for 22 indicators across six topic areas: Human Health Risks, Habitat, Water Quality, Coastal Change, Wildlife, and Pollution Events and Sources.

The Report Card also highlights data and information gaps such as the current acreage of wetlands and oyster reefs remaining in the region, the amount of litter and trash in area waterways and the concentrations of toxic organic substances (such as PCBs and dioxin) in the sediments of Galveston Bay outside of the Houston Ship Channel.

“What’s powerful about the Report Card is that it engages diverse communities in the Greater Houston‐ Galveston Region in a meaningful conversation about Galveston Bay and inspires them to take action to preserve and protect the Bay,” said Lisa Gonzalez, President and CEO of HARC. “We are grateful to Houston Endowment for recognizing this important project, which will help to educate the public about the Bay and environmental effects associated with resource use and a changing coastal environment.”

The grant will allow HARC and GBF to continue to update Report Card indicators and to add new information requested by the community. In an effort to engage the region’s diverse community, the team of researchers will also expand its outreach efforts to K‐12 students and local policy makers.

Additionally, the project team will assess how the Galveston Bay Report Card is being used and identify opportunities to further inspire action and promote active engagement in those that live, work and play in and around Galveston Bay.

“HARC and GBF have developed an engaging and compelling tool that successfully and consistently spotlights issues facing Galveston Bay,” said Ann Stern, President and CEO of Houston Endowment. “We are proud to support their work to inspire community participation in the Bay’s protection, as part of the foundation’s goal of building a strong urban landscape.”

Galveston Bay has received a “C” grade overall every year since the Report Card was published. Some individual grades, however, have declined or improved over the last three years. For example, grades for Recreation Safety (relating to bacteria concentrations in area waterways) improved from a “C” to a “B” in 2017. Other recent improvements include the amount of seagrass now found in Galveston Bay and the concentrations of toxic organic substances in sediments of the Houston Ship Channel. In 2018, the Report Card will include and summarize data describing the impacts of Hurricane Harvey on Galveston Bay.

To determine the impact of information provided by the Galveston Bay Report Card, GBF has implemented an annual online survey to area residents and has made nearly 200 presentations to community groups and schools. The feedback from these efforts has helped shape the indicators included in the Report Card and informs HARC’s data gathering activities. This outreach work has also been part of a successful communications program which since 2015, has reached more than 4.8 million area residents and visitors through television, radio, print and online media.

“When we first gave the grade of ‘C’ to Galveston Bay, people immediately asked what it would take to get to a ‘straight‐A Bay,’” said GBF President Bob Stokes. “My answer is that it will take time, attention, and funding. Galveston Bay is a great natural resource for our area, but we must ensure appropriate stewardship of the Bay so future generations can enjoy its bounty and beauty like we do today.”

The Report Card can be found online at http://www.galvbaygrade.org in both English and Spanish. In addition to annual grades, the Report Card includes a “Find Your Watershed” tool that allows users to learn about the watersheds in which they live and work. A “What You Can Do” tool allows users to search for topic specific actions that they can engage in to preserve and protect Galveston Bay.

With the support of Houston Endowment, the information, tools and outreach activities of the Galveston Bay Report Card will continue into the future. With the goal of inspiring action and promoting active engagement in those that live, work and play in and around Galveston Bay, the Galveston Bay Report Card will endeavor to achieve a straight‐A Bay in the years to come.

About Galveston Bay
The ecologically diverse, 600‐square mile Galveston Bay estuary plays an important role in the Houston‐ Galveston region’s economy. The Bay and surrounding watershed are home to the most racially and ethnically diverse and fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States and produce half of the nation’s petrochemical production. Galveston Bay also supports water‐based industries, such as international shipping, commercial and recreational fishing, boating, and nature tourism. These industries contribute billions of dollars to the region’s economy and employ thousands of people. Additionally, the Bay’s many upland prairies and wetlands capture floodwaters and filter contaminated storm water runoff.

About Houston Advanced Research Center
HARC is a research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1982 strives to build a sustainable future that will help people thrive and nature flourish. For further information, contact HARC at (281) 364‐6000 or visit HARCresearch.org.

About Galveston Bay Foundation
The mission of the GBF is to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural resources of the Galveston Bay estuarine system and its tributaries for present users and for posterity. The Foundation was incorporated in 1987 and is a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For further information, call (281) 332‐3381 or visit galvbay.org.

About Houston Endowment, Inc.
Houston Endowment is a private philanthropic institution that works across the community for the benefit of the people of greater Houston. With assets of over $1.6 billion, the foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations totaling approximately $80 million each year in order to enhance civic assets, strengthen systems that support residents, promote post‐secondary success, and build a stronger region. Established by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones in 1937, Houston Endowment has a rich legacy of addressing some of greater Houston’s most compelling needs. Today the foundation continues efforts to create a vibrant community where all have the opportunity to thrive.

Lisa Gonzalez Office: (281) 364‐6044
Cell: (281) 222‐1693

Bob Stokes Office: (281) 332‐3381 Ext. 211
Cell: (713) 898‐8843

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