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Rice University Center for Civic Leadership

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Bringing Houston Air Pollution Research to Local Action: Acute Health Effects for Vulnerable Populations

Sept. 14, 2015

On September 25th, city and community leaders will join researchers from Rice University, University of Houston and the Environmental Defense Fund to discuss the acute effects of air pollution on Houston’s most vulnerable populations. Houston leaders and researchers will work together to identify strategies for applying new research insights to the city’s most critical air quality challenges.


Facilitating the conversation will be:

  • David Persse (Public Health Authority, City of Houston)
  • Stephen Williams (Department of Health and Human Services, City of Houston)
  • Elena Marks (Episcopal Health Foundation)
  • Juliet Stipeche (HISD Board of Education)
  • Juan Parras (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services)
  • Israel Anderson (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Hilton Kelly (Community In-Power and Development Association)
  • Elizabeth Love (Houston Endowment)
  • Beth Stevenson (Special Advisor in Community Health)
  • Katherine Ensor (Rice University)
  • Loren Raun (Rice University)
  • Justin Denny (Rice University)
  • Robert Griffin (Rice University)
  • Daniel Price (University of Houston)
  • Marcelo Norsworthy (Environmental Defense Fund)


This event is hosted by Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership, Air Alliance Houston, and the Houston Endowment, in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and will be held at Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. 

Rice students develop Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship through CCL programs

Sept. 11, 2015

As part of the Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship Program, a group of Houston-area high school students have organized a mayoral candidate forum scheduled for September 12 at 10:30 AM at Rice University.

Recent Rice grad Daniel Cortez created the Emerging Latino Leaders (ELL) program in partnership with nonprofit Mi Familia Vota, which promotes civic engagement and participation in the Latino community.  Daniel's work was part of the Civic Leadership Capstone, the final project completed by undergraduate students seeking the Certificate in Civic Leadership.

Rising senior Myrna Garza developed ELL's curriculum while working with Mi Familia Vota through the Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience. Myrna helped organize the mayoral forum. 

Read The Houston Chronicle's coverage of ELL and the upcoming forum here.

Discover Research Fair engaged students of all majors

Aug. 28, 2015

The Discover Research Fair, hosted by the Center for Civic Leadership in partnership with the Rice University Student Association and the Graduate Student Association (GSA), was held yesterday in the Grand Hall.  The intention of the annual Discover Research Fair is to connect undergraduate students with research opportunities at Rice University. The fair is an excellent way for students to learn how to pursue research opportunities that fit their goals and interests, and to discuss research with faculty and graduate students across disciplines. 

Participants included the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Baker Institute for Public Policy; Humanities Research Center; Biosciences; UT Health and MD Anderson.

Graduate students presenting their work at the Discover Research Fair represented Physics, Bioengineering, Computer Science, Psychology and Sociology, among other disciplines.

Outreach Day is day one, not one day, of service for Rice freshmen

Aug. 24, 2015

This Saturday's annual O-Week community service event Outreach Day focused for the first time on a single issue - hunger and food insecurity in Houston. New freshman students were given the opportunity to learn more about Houston through service and community engagement, and to meet the many people and organizations working to achieve food security in Houston. Student volunteers worked with the Houston Food Bank, Stop Hunger Now, Neighborhood Enrichment Exchange, and Target Hunger. Service projects included packing meals for distribution and doing community garden work.

Through Outreach Day, the CCL encourages new students to become involved with a social issue that they are passionate about.  Students are introduced to partner organizations, and have the opportunity to work with them throughout their four years as a student at Rice. In turn, partners are able to build relationships with students interested in addressing specific social issues through service.

See photos from this year's event here.

Read about Outreach Day in Rice News, and in The Rice Thresher.

Recent Rice grad Kelsey Walker develops METRO model for Certificate in Civic Leadership

Aug. 11, 2015

Kelsey Walker, who graduated from Rice in May with a degree in mathematical economics, worked with METRO to develop a model to forecast weekend ridership for the organization’s new bus network, as part of the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) Certificate in Civic Leadership program.

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CCL partners with the Rather Prize Foundation, Greenlights, and SXSWedu to inspire innovative ideas for Texas education

Aug. 10, 2015

The Rather Prize, which launched today, was created in partnership with Dan Rather and his grandson Martin Rather, the Center for Civic Leadership, Austin-based Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, and SXSWedu. 

An incoming Rice University freshman, Martin Rather grew up in New York, but is invested in the future of Texas public education. Concerned about Texas public school rankings and the current quality of education in the state where his grandfather attended school, Martin came up with the idea for an award that would recognize original and innovative ideas to improve public education.

Texas-based current and retired teachers, administrators, and students are eligible to apply. Ten finalists will be chosen, with their ideas featured on the Rather Prize website. The winner, selected based on the recommendations of the CCL and an advisory board, as well as community and social media response, will receive $10,000 and the chance to attend and present at the annual SXSWedu Conference in Austin, Texas, with all travel expenses paid.

The CCL will play an integral role in the Rather Prize by helping to recommend a winner, and by providing a team of Rice students who will propose a plan for implementing the winner's idea. Dr. Caroline Quenemoen, Executive Director of the CCL, is a member of the Rather Prize advisory board.

“The Rather Prize was created to empower those who are committed to improving Texas education by giving them a platform and a path for discussion and implementation of their innovative ideas,” said Martin.

The Rather Prize is open for submissions today, and closes January 31, 2016. The winner will be announced February 15, 2016, and will be invited to attend the SXSWedu Conference in March 2016. The $10,000 prize money can be used for any educational purpose.

More press coverage about the Rather Prize can be found herehere and here, and more information about the Prize and the submission process can be found at www.ratherprize.org.

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HART Findings Included in Parks Department Master Plan Presentation

June 22, 2015

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s Master Plan Presentation on June 22, 2015 included a presentation by Dr. Robert Stein on survey results and findings by Rice University students as part of a Houston Action Research Team (HART) project. This HART project was part of a collaborative effort between Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.   

The Parks HART team, composed of Sally Hodges-Copple, Tanvi Sharma, Lucy Matveeva, and Emily Jacobson, analyzed the park improvement priorities of underrepresented Houston communities, by conducting 403 face-to-face interviews using a self-designed survey.  The team targeted parks users that were previously under-surveyed by focusing on 18 different parks in the Houston area.  The team found that these park users primary concern is clean-up and repair of parks as opposed to previous findings which supported connectivity.  Additionally, the findings suggest that there may be a park quality “threshold” that must be met before users will show preference for bike and pedestrian connectivity.   

The Parks Master Plan Presentation was held in Brown Auditorium of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and other speakers at the event included representatives from the Trust for Public Land and Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

The Parks Master Plan is updated based on public recommendations, data analysis, and collaboration with other city departments and partners.

More information about the Parks Master Plan can be found here.

For more about the HART program, visit the HART page.


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Prizes and awards to degree recipients

May 20, 2015

Rice undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates reaped a number of fellowships, scholarships and awards this year. 

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Cortez honored with Powell Commencement Award for Leadership

May 16, 2015

For as long as he can remember, Daniel Cortez has been interested in public service. This weekend, he was honored with the 2015 Gen. Colin Powell Commencement Award for Leadership.

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Two Rice University students awarded Watson Fellowships

March 27, 2015

Two seniors from Rice University have been awarded a 2015 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. This highly competitive award will provide $30,000 each to Zach Bielak and Lydia Smith for a year of international travel to do research projects after they graduate from Rice. 

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Rice senior named Luce Scholar

March 19, 2015

Lovett College senior Nick Thorpe is one of 18 Luce Scholars for 2015-2016. He was nominated by Rice and chosen for the nationally competitive fellowship program from 156 nominees who have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability and potential for professional accomplishments.

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Rice students attend Global FoodBanking Network reception

March 18, 2015

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership students attended a reception hosted by the Global FoodBanking Network at Asia Society Texas Center March 18.

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Rice students participate in Alternative Spring Break

March 16, 2015

Approximately 210 Rice University students, faculty and staff spent their spring break giving back to the community through Rice’s Alternative Spring Break program, which places teams of students in communities around the continental United States to engage in direct community service and experiential learning.

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Rice Students Win Flood Policy Contest For Multi-Home Buyout Idea


"Since Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast about six months ago, officials in the Houston area have been pursuing ways to remove houses from flood-prone areas. But how do you buy out homes without splitting up communities? A team of Rice University students sought to answer that question in a recent flood policy contest. The judges said they might be onto something. In the contest, students looked for ways to deal with the repeated flooding that’s devastated Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood. Connor Rothschild and his teammate Sapna Suresh won for their idea to give more money to neighbors if their homes are bought out together."

Read the full post at Houston Public Media here.