08:19 AM

UHD Signs Letter of Intent with United For College Success Coalition

Partnership Helps Create Pathway Toward College Education for More Low-income Students


By Mark Kramer

A new partnership between the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and the United for College Success Coalition (UFCS) will help more students from low-income families gain access to a college education.

A letter of intent signed by UHD President Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz and representatives from the UFCS member schools took place on Thursday, Oct. 10 in UHD’s TDECU Tour Room. Under the agreement, the learning institutions will work together in providing students with pathways to college graduation and a transition into a successful career.

“We are working together toward the same goal of creating more opportunities for students who want to attend and complete college,” said Muñoz. “Through this partnership, we will help provide a greater number of students with the support they need to earn their college diplomas and excel long after graduation.”

UFCS schools involved in the partnership include: KIPP Public Schools, IDEA Public Schools, YES Prep Public Schools, Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, One Goal Houston, Harmony Public Schools, Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Uplift Education, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD.

Representatives signing the agreement included:

  • Yvonne Eype, UFCS program director
  • Dan Caesar, regional superintendent, KIPP Public Schools
  • Mark Di Bella, CEO, Yes Prep Public Schools
  • Razaman Coskuner, district superintendent, Harmony Public Schools
  • David Johnston, assistant superintendent, Houston ISD
  • Tarah Burns, vice president of college partnerships, IDEA Public Schools
  • Patty Williams-Downs, executive director, One Goal Houston
  • Dr. Remy Washington, chief academic officer, Uplift Education
  • Dr. Jorge Arredondo, superintendent, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
  • Nicole Gonzalez, college bound advisor, Young Women’s Preparatory Network
  • Dr. Lance Stallworth, executive director of student support services, Spring Branch ISD

As part of the program, the UFCS partners will share student data to track their students through college as well as share best practices that support students through their experiences in UHD degree programs. According to the agreement, programs to enhance student learning may include:

  • Summer impact programs
  • Full-time coaching staff housed at UHD
  • Technology and event integration
  • Shared spaces for coaching and student engagement

“This partnership exemplifies the true spirit of collaboration and a common vision of ensuring that students are set for success by providing the support and resources that they need to excel,” Eype said. “We are excited about the future as we work together to increase college completion rates for first-generation and low socioeconomic students.”

Downs, who is executive director of the non-profit One Goal Houston, explained how the partnership will benefit high school graduates from their program.

“Grades kindergarten through 12 is the ‘first half’ of an educational career for students,” she said. “We stress to them that high school graduation is not the end – it’s the start of the ‘second half,’ which is college. With the support of UHD and our UFCS partners, we will help students in that second half to earn their degree and prepare them to take on the world.”

Houston ISD’s Johnston praised UHD’s success with students and the UFCS effort toward making a college education accessible to all.

“Every year, over 400 of our high school graduates make UHD their school of choice,” he said. “It's exciting to see how many of them excel in their studies and career fields. Through this new partnership, we’ll see even more student success stories.”

Learn more about UFCS and its member districts.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.