Greater Houston Community Foundation Launches Houston's First Ongoing Regional Community Indicators Project

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Understanding Houston is a new initiative designed to promote informed, collaborative action for our community.

Today, Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) hosts a luncheon at the Briar Club to celebrate the launch of Understanding Houston, Houston’s very first ongoing regional community indicators project. Supported by GHCF’s strategic research partner, Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research (Kinder Institute), the initiative provides an open, accessible online platform for independent data around quality-of-life issues across the Houston region. It aims to equip community members with the knowledge they need to make informed giving decisions, create positive impact, and promote a more vibrant Houston.

“At GHCF, we heard our community loud and clear: a centralized, one-stop shop for data is essential to empowering positive change,” stated GHCF’s Senior Director of Community Philanthropy, Diana Zarzuelo. “Whether you’re a philanthropist wanting to inform your giving, a nonprofit who needs data to inform your strategy or make a case, or a regional leader or policy-maker who can direct resources to pressing issues, Understanding Houston will be a valuable resource for you.”

The ongoing initiative will compile and interpret data across multiple sources to maintain an accessible, one-stop web platform for tracking our region’s progress over time. Understanding Houston breaks data into eight main topics: arts & culture, civic engagement, community context, education, economic opportunity, environment, health, and housing. The topics encompass more than 200 community indicators that provide factual insight into our community’s strengths and challenges across Fort Bend, Harris, and Montgomery counties. These are illustrated through data visualizations, real community stories, and a repository of additional data resources.

“At the end of the day, this initiative is about connecting people and inspiring them to take action,” said Stephen Maislin, President and CEO of GHCF. “As the Foundation continues to grow with and for our community, Understanding Houston will be a vital resource for our donors, allowing them to work even closer together and with others to create positive change.”

William Fulton, Director at the Kinder Institute, commented, “As someone who cares deeply about Houston, I am excited for the Kinder Institute to be a part of this important work and to see our collective efforts unfold over the years to come.”

In addition to the website, Understanding Houston plans to host community convenings to promote collaboration across counties and sectors, and encourage more hands-on learning. People can vote on the issue topics that matter most to them on the website to inform upcoming convening topics, and even host data parties to engage their networks around the community issues they are most passionate about.

The luncheon, which will be emceed by KPRC news anchor Dominique Sachse, features speakers from across the community, including Winell Herron (H-E-B), Ron Hulme (Bluescape Energy Partners), Laura Jaramillo (Wells Fargo), Julie Martineau (Montgomery County Community Foundation), Quynh-Anh McMahan (The George Foundation), and Frost Murphy (HeartGift Foundation). Speakers will share their own unique perspectives on how they plan to utilize the tool in their work and join the Understanding Houston movement.

GHCF strongly encourages all community members to learn more about Understanding Houston by visiting There, you can explore the data, sign up to participate in upcoming convenings, and join the conversation.

About Greater Houston Community Foundation

Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) has served the greater Houston community for nearly 25 years, and is one of Houston’s largest grant makers. The organization provides individuals, families, corporations, foundations, and advisors with the ability to expand their philanthropic impact beyond what they could have ever imagined. GHCF supports community and donor initiatives with the most comprehensive, aligned, and focused philanthropic resources, expertise, and platforms. The organization is widely considered to be the go-to partner for high-profile philanthropic partnerships in the greater Houston area, including major disaster relief initiatives such as the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

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Rachel Young
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