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Photo by David J. Phillip/​The Associated Press

Houston — With grants totaling $2.2 million from Houston Endowment and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC) plans to explore new areas of education research in the Houston Independent School District (HISD).

The funding will enable HERC to continue to strengthen the connection between education research and policy/​practice and to pursue new lines of research by linking education data with information from other sectors such as early childcare, criminal justice and the workforce.

Established in 2011 and housed in Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, HERC is a research partnership between Rice and HISD, the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the U.S. The consortium focuses on creating a direct line of communication between education researchers and decision-makers to ensure that all children have access to a high-quality education, regardless of their economic status or where they live. HERC’s research agenda is shaped by the needs of local education leaders, and the decisions of these leaders are informed by the research produced by HERC and its affiliates.

I’m extremely grateful for the support of Houston Endowment and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation,” said Ruth López Turley, HERC director and Rice professor of sociology. The HERC research team and the district leaders we work with are highly committed to ensuring that this investment not only improves the connection between research and decision-making but also ultimately leads to better outcomes for children.”

HERC helps build powerful relationships between researchers and practitioners by focusing on real-world problems and connecting research to solutions in the field,” said Houston Endowment President and CEO Ann Stern. This work will have a positive impact on students and families in Greater Houston and has the potential for broader impact by serving as a model for other districts. We are excited to partner with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support this effort.”

HERC is helping to meet the needs of Houston’s children,” said Josh McGee, vice president of public accountability at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Through this partnership, leading education researchers at Rice University are working with HISD to use data and evaluation in an effort to dramatically improve educational services in the district.”

In addition to supporting HERC’s current line of research, which includes projects on dropout indicators, school choice, college advising and various districtwide program evaluations, these grants will support the creation of new lines of research that will help decision-makers better understand the links between education and various desirable and undesirable outcomes that affect all of society.

Both researchers and district leaders are making significant changes to better align the timing of research production with the timing of decision-making,” Turley said. We’re making sure we communicate regularly before, during and after each research study. We’re not simply handing over a research report.”

We are very grateful that Houston Endowment and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have shown such confidence in HERC,” said Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute. HERC is an important component of a broad effort by the Kinder Institute to advance understanding of the most important issues facing Houston and to collaborate with civic and political leaders to implement promising solutions to these critical urban issues.”

A private foundation, Houston Endowment awards approximately $85 million each year to charitable organizations serving the Greater Houston area. The legacy of Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones, the foundation manages $1.7 billion in assets.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is a private foundation that is working to address the nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multidisciplinary approaches. Its investments are currently focused on criminal justice, education, evidence-based policy and innovation, public accountability and research integrity. The foundation has offices in Houston, New York City and Washington, D.C.