Get to Know Local Non Profit Organizations
Local non profit organizations are the backbone of our communities as they provide essential and invaluable resources to the most vulnerable and under-represented populations. Houston is home to hundreds of organizations, many of which were homegrown in the greater Houston area. While some of the larger organizations have become household names, many small but mighty non profits work tirelessly for underrepresented groups throughout the city. Get to know a few local non profit organizations that may be lesser-known (for now!) but are impacting the lives of those they serve each day.
Founded by internationally-renowned Texas Poet Laureate and educator Lupe Méndez, Tintero Projects / Proyectos Tintero is a Texas-based literary organization that aims to promote writing & reading opportunities for emerging Latinx poets and writers in the Houston – Galveston/Gulf Coast Region. The organization has a small team of three writers, including Mendez’s wife, award-winning author, playwright and poet Jasminne Mendez. Together, the artistically passionate duo travels throughout Texas and beyond, sharing their individual and collective literary works.
Tintero Projects is dedicated to helping create a platform for Latinx writers and Writers of Color to thrive in the art. To elevate their efforts, Tintero Projects frequently partner with other arts organizations in the community such as Inprint to host workshops and seminars for young and blossoming writers in Houston. As explained by Tintero Projects, “The word tintero is Spanish for inkwell, an old school container once used to house the ink for a pen. The image was selected as a way to show that this project, this movement is about providing resources for the writer.”
ChildBuilders was founded in 1974 by seven women with shared concerns about Houston’s growing global medical footprint but lack of treatment options for pediatric mental health disorders. Now, 45 years later, the organization has evolved from expanding treatment options for children with mental illness to preventing the abuse and trauma that contributes to mental illness in today’s youth. The organization’s mission is to promote mental health and prevent abuse by empowering children, parents, and teachers with assertiveness skills, emotional control, empathy, resilience, and the ability to resolve conflict nonviolently.
In the last 12 months, ChildBuilders has served more than 32,000 children, 400 caretakers, and 500 educators through Houston public and private education systems and fellow organizations. “We cannot prevent all childhood adversity,” shares ChildBuilders Executive Director Amanda Siroosian, MPH. “Instead, we arm children with skills that can reduce their risk of trauma, increase their resilience to traumatic events, and increase their awareness of their rights and responsibilities when it comes or keeping themselves and their communities safe.”
Gigi’s Playhouse was created in 2003 and has over 55 brick-and-mortar locations across the United States and Mexico. Gigi’s Playhouse Houston joined the local community of nonprofit organizations in 2018 as the 40th location. The organization’s mission is all about education and inclusivity: to change how the world views Down syndrome and send a global message of acceptance for all. Down syndrome is the largest chromosomal disability in the United States. Gigi’s Playhouse Houston provides free programs and resources to families from prenatal diagnosis to career skills, maximizing opportunities for daily achievement and lasting acceptance. The organization’s lifetime commitment to the families they serve ensures guidance and tools for success and empowerment, one child at a time.
“GiGi’s Playhouse has been a safe haven for our family and a place where our Jilly thrives. She always looks forward to our Saturday morning trip to GiGi’s where she gets to see friends and participate in fun programs tailored to her unique skills and abilities. It has also been a tremendous resource for us as parents. GiGi’s Playhouse and the community helped us go from “Why us?” to “Wow! Us!” “How lucky are we?”” -The Currie Family
Compudopt was founded in 2007 by Jonathan Osha, believing that every child deserves equal access to education and opportunity. Today, the organization has expanded its services nationwide, including a thriving office in Houston, Texas. Compudot’s mission is to provide equal technology access and education to under-resourced youth and their families regardless of their economic status. The organization’s path to fulfilling its mission is simple: take lightly used computers, wipe them clean and load them with over 100 educational games and apps that don’t require internet access to function. These devices become a direct pathway to future success for young learners while also demonstrating good environmental stewardship by Compudot’s partner organizations.
As of 2021, Compudot has delivered over 100,000 hours of technology education to greater than 40,000 households, impacting nearly 140,000 individuals across the United States. “True digital equity requires more than just a computer. Connectivity and digital literacy are essential to close the gap, ensuring families have access to the wealth of content, knowledge, and support that is otherwise beyond reach.”
Recipe for Success Foundation is dedicated to combating childhood obesity by changing how children understand, appreciate and eat their food. The organization provides educational resources to the community, mobilizing its members to provide healthier diets for children. Well into its second decade of service, Recipe for Success Foundation has empowered more than 50,000 children in Houston and surrounding areas with essential knowledge tools for healthier living.
Founder, President & CEO, Gracie Cavnar says the organization is focused on the future of health for children. “The Foundation works to create a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated and celebrated with programs that teach, empower and inspire healthy eating. We envision a world where healthy eating is the norm, and we won’t stop until we live it.”
Mason Makes Money Fund
One of the newest nonprofits in the Houston market is Mason Makes Money Fund, founded in 2020 by children’s book author of Mason Makes Money, Candace Okin. Okin created the organization to invest in the entrepreneurial efforts of youth ages 7 to 13. Mason Makes Money Fund teaches kids responsibility, augments critical thinking ability, and fosters literacy skills, mathematical comprehension and money management. The nonprofit fulfills its mission through programs and scholarships, equipping youth with skills that will propel their future professional aspirations, encourage positive and productive citizenship, and reinforce the limitlessness of their dreams through entrepreneurial education. Programs and workshops are free and address essential entrepreneurial and financial topics, including marketing, budgeting; customer service; business planning; tax preparation; and more.
Okin shares, “The crown jewel of our program is our awarding of micro-grants to three kid entrepreneurs each year for $500 to fund their businesses. I want Mason Makes Money Fund to catalyze youth to be the writers and protagonists of their own stories by supporting their entrepreneurial efforts early on in their lives.”
Every local non profit’s success comes from the support and involvement of the communities they serve. Looking for new ways to learn, spread hope and give back to your community? Look no further than these homegrown nonprofits. Your support can be made in the way of monetary and in-kind donations, volunteering time or simply sharing the work they do and the stories of those they serve. Visit www.houstonfamilymagazine.com to learn more about these incredible do-gooders and their impressive work!