14:38 PM

UHD Receives Nearly $300,000 to Help Students Return to Classroom Following Harvey


By Mike Emery


Houstonians continue to recover from Harvey. Although the storm is now history, homes and lives are being rebuilt in its aftermath.

This week, 90 area nonprofit organizations received a boost in their efforts to help Houstonians affected by Harvey. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (HHRF) provided these nonprofits $28.9 million to enhance their respective recovery initiatives. Among the institutions receiving support from HHRF and providing aid to the community is the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD).

UHD received $297,800 from this relief fund for an initiative titled "Return to UHD." This project is focused on assisting students who withdrew from UHD due to adversities experienced during and after Harvey. "Return to UHD" will support students with financial assistance, as well as social and emotional support.

HHRF was founded by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmet and is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

"Harvey happened a few months ago, but our students are still feeling its effects," said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. "It's important that our institution help them resume their academic mission. This grant will help students return to our classrooms and ultimately complete their respective degrees. I thank Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmet and the Greater Houston Community Foundation for their continued support of our city and our university. Their leadership and generosity has benefitted Houstonians following Harvey and is now helping our students finish UHD strong."

President Muñoz picked up the official check for this grant at the Greater Houston Community Foundation. He was greeted by three foundation members, who are UHD students. They included MBA student Allison Sullivan, and Master's of Nonprofit Management students Kolby Gilbert and Eileen Alexander.

"Return to UHD" complements other University initiatives aimed at supporting the campus community in the wake of Harvey. These include the Gator Relief Fund, which raised $53,000 to help students in need following the storm, and a separate fund for faculty and staff affected by Harvey. UHD also hired a disaster assistance specialist to counsel faculty, staff and students on their respective roads to recovery.

This week marks the second round of nonprofits that were awarded funds from HHRF. More organizations are scheduled to receive funding in January. Houstonians can continue to support the HHRF and assist even more community members in need by making donations here.

"Bouncing back from disaster is hard work for flood victims trying to repair homes, pay for temporary housing, replace damaged personal belongings and start their lives over," said Judge Emmett in a statement regarding the fund. "So, the administrators of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund are working hard to meet their needs. It's a process that is making a difference."

"I am heartened to see that round two of the distribution of donations from so many kind donors is based on data about needs in the community and will boost the well-being of the entire Houston area with direct financial aid and services that government simply cannot supply," added Mayor Turner. "The reach of this round's distribution is deep and will improve the lives of many in our city. Our work will continue as we identify the best and most meaningful ways to distribute the funds over the next months."