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Every Fall is a New Beginning

connect community

6700 Bellaire Blvd. Houston TX 77074 | Tel: 281.879.3042

Every Fall is a New Beginning

We at Connect Community believe that strong individuals are a result of strong communities. And these strong communities can be created when people and organizations come together with intention and purpose.

That's why we are excited to kick off the fall season with stories of our partners that highlight the power of our collective voices and the good work that happens when we come together as a connected community.

As we start this new school year, we invite you all to join us in developing and using the "power of community" to revitalize and develop your corner of Gulfton.

etolle academy

Etoile Academy has Launched!

One early Tuesday morning last week, Connect was invited to visit Gulfton/Sharpstown’s new Etoile Academy Charter School. Picture the scene: Cars rolling up, sleepy students tumbling out, and making their way to an orderly greeting/inspection line so that each student could offer the school leader an energetic “look ‘em in the eye” greeting, a firm handshake, and a quick flip of the sweatshirt to reveal the required belt underneath. Kayleigh Colombero, Etoile's founding school leader, is warm but all business as she patiently greets each student. From the greeting to the classrooms, what stood out was the orderly flow of systems. Kayleigh informed me that a recent study showed that up to 40 instruction days are lost every year due to inefficient classroom systems (distractions, free time, disorganized procedures, etc.). As so many of Etoile’s students are coming from schools where little learning was taking place – of her fifth grade students only 16% are reading at grade level and only 24.5% are on level in math - having efficient systems is critical for maximizing student learning time. The school is also offering extended days for those parents who cannot pick their child up until 6:00 pm and will bring in different partners for wellness, academic enrichment and sports. They have a need for retired teachers who could join with them to read and offer one on one support to those students needing a little bit extra.

Please contact Kayleigh if you are interested at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are excited to have Etoile Academy as part of our Connect(ed) Community!

family dinner

"A Seat at the Table" Family Dinners

Our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program, Connect to Character (C2C), has launched its first Family Dinner for the ’18 – ’19 school year partnership with KIPP: CONNECT Middle School (KCMS). Late in the spring of ‘18, we learned that 38% of 8th graders at our site school reported to only eat dinner as a family once in a seven-day period. Thus, "A Seat at the Table" dinner series was formed to bring parent and student together for a lightly programmed meal in fellowship with one another and the school community.

Each month, 60 KCMS students, parents and teachers will come together for a home-cooked meal hosted by St. Luke’s – Gethsemane church. Our time together will be focused on bringing child and parent(s) closer through meaningful, and relevant dialogue. Together, we will eat, share, and connect.

Please contact Ryan if you are interested in learning more about the program or volunteering at one of the family dinners at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

verizon innovative learning

The Connect Y at the Connect Community Hub Opens!

The Connect Community Hub is officially open and the Connect Y has marked the kick-off with two excellent weeks of free classes, activities, and prizes! The Verizon Innovative Learning bus which provides free technology, free internet access, and hands-on learning experiences even made a surprise appearance! To learn more about the classes being offered and ways to get involved, visit the YMCA Facebook Page Here. For more information, please contact Tamina Allen at 713.664.9622 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jane Long

Welcoming A "New" School Leader

It is with great pleasure that we welcome the Jane Long HS Futures Academy school leader to her new and expanded role as school leader for the entire 5th thru 12th Jane Long Academy campus!

Keri Wittpenn founded the Futures Academy Program at Long which has centered around providing dual credit college course options to students and allowing them to obtain an Associate Degree of Allied Health and Science as well as a Pharmacy Technician Certificate in tandem with a high school diploma. As the new principal for the Jane Long Academy system, she will take many of her best practices developed in the Futures Academy and apply them to the JLA Middle School.

At the start of school, Keri created a fast-paced scavenger hunt in the neighborhood so that teachers and staff could meet and get to know all the wonderful community partners and resources that exist to better serve their students and families.

We are beyond excited to be working with Jane Long Academy and with Keri as we continue to make our community even more connected!

Upcoming Events:

fall fest

Fall Festival 2018: On October 17th, six schools including students, parents and teachers from the Gulfton/Sharpstown area will come together for the ultimate Fall Festival. It will be an evening filled with competitive events such as Bubble Soccer, Tug of War, Sack Race, Obstacle Course, food, crafts, and more. It is the must-attend event of the year! To sponsor a game, volunteer or learn more, contact Sheridan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Luncheon: Our annual luncheon is back and scheduled for October 30th at the Briar Club from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm! This year's theme is "Resilient by Design" with keynote speaker, Shirley Franklin, former mayor of Atlanta and board chair of Purpose Built Communities speaking about community resiliency in the Purpose Built context. Click here to purchase a ticket and learn more about who we are and what we do.

Our Newsroom

Gulfton/Connect in the News:

Landscape Architecture featured Gulfton's Madres del Parque, a non-profit organization working to refurbish and bring about new green space to the neighborhood.

The Kinder Institute conducted a research study with the help of Connect Community and the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council about the street safety concerns in the Gulfton neighborhood.

What We are Reading:

As we continue to look at ways to create meaningful moments and develop relationships with our residents and our partners, we have been reading "The Art of Gathering" as inspiration. Written by Priya Parker, an expert facilitator trained in conflict resolution, this book shows us what it means to take a human-centered approach to create meaningful, memorable experiences in gatherings large and small, for work and for play.

Our community is filled with talented chefs from all over the world who are looking for ways to develop their skills and pursue their own entrepreneurial food endeavors. So we have looked for examples of success such as this one about Coronado in this Next City article. Coronado is a food truck owner who sought out to decolonize the diet and the culture of a town in Detroit. Originally from East Austin, he chose to plant roots in a town colloquially known as Mexicantown and start a food truck that introduces healthy options to classic Mexican dishes and shifts what residents choose to put in their body. We have also checked out this Westword article about Comal, a restaurant that aims to train low-income women and refugees from Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Ethiopia and Iraq, skills in running a restaurant and a business.

Are you reading something interesting? Share your articles of success, revitalization, and inspiration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.