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2011 award-winner helps turn students into good citizens

2013 January 15
by HISD Communications

Henry MS students check blood pressure under the supervision of Perfect Vision volunteer Stephanie Kolkolis during the Medical Madness apprenticeship.

Since 2006, thousands of students from Texas have built robots, argued trials, and networked with local professionals through Citizen Schools, a non-profit organization that received HISD’s Community Partnership of the Year award from Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) in 2011. During a longer school day, middle-school students from low-income communities receive academic support and coaching and participate in “apprenticeships,” ten-week courses that help kids make connections between school work and future success.  Apprenticeships are taught by volunteers from the community and range in topic from healthy living to financial literacy and computer coding.   

Two HISD campuses currently partner with the organization—Henry and Fondren middle schools—serving almost 400 students. This fall, the organization brought more than 140 community members into the classroom from partner companies such as the Baylor College of Medicine, Wells Fargo, Shell, ExxonMobil, and others.

“Citizen Schools’ second shift of educators brings real learning, real energy, and invaluable real-world experiences to our students,” said Henry Principal Diana De La Rosa.

This fall, the program announced a partnership with the Walmart Foundation, which will benefit students in Houston and nationally over the next two years.  The organization raised more than $150,000 at its inaugural luncheon in September and will be using that and funding received from the federal i3 award to pay for STEM apprenticeships here in Houston. 

“Citizen Schools is thrilled to be partnering with HISD and looks forward to expanding its program to serve more Houston students in the coming years,” said Todd Litton, Executive Director of Citizen Schools Texas.  To learn more about Citizen Schools, visit

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