Project GRAD Houston
The mission of Project GRAD is to help students in low-income neighborhoods develop and achieve their educational aspirations.
The goals of Project GRAD are to see at least 80% of entering ninth graders graduate from high school, at least 50% of those graduates attend college with our scholarship, and at least 60% of enrollees graduate from college.
Project GRAD began in 1989 as a scholarship program offered to every graduating senior in Jefferson Davis High School on Houston’s north side – a school once labeled a “dropout factory” by the Department of Education. James Ketelsen, the Chairman of Tenneco at the time, and Kathryn Ketelsen believed the promise of a scholarship would address the financial shortfall that so often inhibits low-income students from pursuing, much less attending, college. A partnership between Tenneco and Davis High School was subsequently established. However, it soon became clear the financial burden was only one component of a much larger and much more systemic issue: the students did not have access to the resources and support necessary to be academically and socially ready for college, and subsequently to succeed once they arrived; even more distressing, they did not believe they could. Therefore, in 1994, working in tandem with school and community leaders, the GRAD model was developed. Through partnership with the school district, local schools, and the community, sustainable systems of support were implemented which would change the college-going expectations of the communities we serve. In turn, high school and college graduation rates are increased.
Today, Project GRAD Houston serves five feeder patterns in the Houston Independent School District: Jefferson Davis, Jack Yates, Phillis Wheatley, John Reagan, and Sam Houston, in addition to operating a Fine Arts Program in the Davis feeder system. We reach nearly 44,000 students with the promise of our scholarship offer and our college population includes approximately 1,500 students with active scholarships. Of those students, 97 percent are minority and 90 percent come from low-income households.