HERC receives $1.8M grant from Laura and John Arnold Foundation

A new $1.8 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will provide continued support to Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC) to improve educational achievement and help Houston’s education policymakers make informed decisions.


HERC, part of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, is a partnership between Rice and the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The consortium, which aims to produce rigorous research for the purpose of closing the socio-economic gaps in educational achievement and attainment in Houston, previously received a $1.3 million grant from the Arnold Foundation.

“I am extremely grateful for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s vision to invest in education research and in this partnership between Rice and HISD,” said HERC Director Ruth López Turley, an associate professor of sociology at Rice. “This additional support will enable us to attract new education researchers, expand our efforts to produce more research on issues of interest to HISD, and collaborate with others to help build more school district-university partnerships across the country that will positively impact education.”

The grant will expand on HERC’s existing groundwork for a strong partnership between Rice and HISD and will provide support for:

  • Employing a new longitudinal database, which will allow HERC to assist the district not only in producing studies with rigorous research designs that attempt to answer causal questions but also offer independent analyses on pressing issues facing the school district.
  • Making the database available to researchers beyond HISD and HERC and inviting researchers nationwide to submit proposals for projects on topics that are selected by the district and that aim to inform decision-makers.
  • Launching a national network of school district-university partnerships to share information about the most effective programs and interventions. These partnerships will aim to ensure that the most promising interventions are tested and replicated in different regions of the country, to exchange innovative ideas about how to ensure that only high-quality research is used for decision-making and to develop strategies for altering the research cultures of universities and school districts in a manner that increases their compatibility.

“The second phase of HERC funding will provide HISD an even better opportunity to address some of its most pressing issues,” said Lyn Ragsdale, dean of Rice’s School of Social Sciences. “It will also make Houston a place where researchers from around the country will be able to study the challenges of urban education.”

For more information on HERC, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/herc.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation strives to produce substantial, widespread and lasting changes to society that will maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. For more information on the foundation, visit www.arnoldfoundation.org.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.