Rice’s Kinder Institute will expand urban data work with $2.25M grant from Houston Endowment

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


Amy McCaig

Rice’s Kinder Institute will expand urban data work with $2.25M grant from Houston Endowment

HOUSTON – (July 24, 2019) – Thanks to renewed funding from Houston Endowment, Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research will be able to expand its data-driven work in the public, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. The new $2.25 million, three-year grant follows a previous Houston Endowment grant that supported several Kinder initiatives, including the Urban Data Platform (UDP).

Houston skyline at night“We are immensely grateful to Houston Endowment for its continued support of Rice and the Kinder Institute,” Rice President David Leebron said. “This renewed funding will allow the institute to continue its critical data-driven work to better understand the challenges that Houston and other cities are facing and create lasting solutions. Contributing to our home city and others in this way is central to Rice’s mission and its strategic plan, and we are extremely appreciative of this generous support.”

The Kinder Institute will use the grant to continue building on its essential data tools, which are the basis for its work. The funding will support the Houston Urban Data Project 2.0, which will leverage existing data infrastructure, including the UDP and Houston Community Data Connections (HCDC). The goals for the project include:
Aligning and enhancing the Kinder Institute’s urban and community data efforts.
Developing robust training and research support programs to support a larger user base.
Broadening awareness of data-driven research by expanding related communications and outreach efforts.

The HCDC Dashboard currently provides neighborhood-level indicators for 143 areas in Harris County. Since its launch in September 2017, it has had more than 9,000 users, nearly 16,000 site sessions and more than 45,000 page views. The team has also processed and completed almost 120 requests for data and research assistance since the program’s launch.

The UDP, a secure computing platform and data repository, provides access to more than 200 curated research-ready datasets about Houston. Those who study the Houston region can share their data by publishing it with the UDP. To date, the UDP supports 400 users who have accessed the system and website approximately 6,000 times and downloaded data 650 times since the launch in spring 2018.

Over the next three years, the Kinder Institute will focus on two broad categories through two initiatives: Building Better Cities (with an emphasis on government efficiency and critical urban systems) and Building Better Lives (with an emphasis on quality of life and addressing urban disparity among urban residents, especially in Houston).

“The UDP and HCDC have laid the foundation for a shift in how data is used and decisions are made in the public, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, and this funding will allow the Kinder Institute to build on this work,” said Bill Fulton, director of the institute. “This project will help drive effective, data-driven decision-making for the region and will make the Kinder Institute the data hub for the entire region and a model for other cities around the world.”

“At Houston Endowment, our vision is a vibrant region where all have the opportunity to thrive,” said Ann B. Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment. “We believe that making good data available to the public leads to better-informed decision-making on the part of our public officials and allows residents to more effectively advocate for their communities’ needs. This is why the UDP and HCDC are so important for the future of our region.”

Established in 2010, the Kinder Institute is a “think and do” tank that advances understanding of the challenges facing Houston and other urban centers through research, policy analysis, public outreach and collaboration with civic and political leaders.

Houston Endowment is a private philanthropic institution that works across the community for the benefit of the people of greater Houston. With assets of over $1.8 billion, the foundation provides approximately $70 million in funding each year in order to enhance civic assets, strengthen systems that support residents, promote post-secondary success, and build a stronger region. Established by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones in 1937, Houston Endowment has a rich legacy of addressing some of greater Houston’s most compelling needs. Today the foundation continues efforts to create a vibrant community where all have the opportunity to thrive.


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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

About Amy McCaig

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