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Urban Scholars Houston


The Social Justice Learning Institute, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations at the forefront of the social justice and equity movement since 2008, has been working for over a decade to improve the education, health, and well-being of youth and communities of color through research, training, and community mobilization.

Since the founding of our Houston Branch in 2018, the Houston team has partnered with five schools within the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to increase college and career preparation, academic competencies, and skills-building among students of color through our flagship Urban Scholars program.

Urban Scholars: Empowering Houston’s Young Men and Women of Color

Using education as a tool, we empower youth of color to create thriving communities and more equitable systems by providing relevant curriculum and academic support.

By tapping into the following 4 key areas, they learn to build knowledge of self for personal transformation, develop social awareness of the world around them, and achieve academic success. 

1. Academic and Career Development

We provide individualized academic and career pathway development and take students on college and career field trips to support their journeys to and through post-secondary plans.

2. Socio-Emotional Support

We work with students to address and overcome trauma through restorative practices, outdoor retreats, and individual therapy sessions with mental health professionals.

3. Self-Esteem Development

We strengthen students’ sense of self through mindfulness activities, team-building, and leadership development in the classroom and at retreats.

4. Youth Leadership

We train students in community-based action research, policy advocacy, and organizing so they can become leaders who transform their communities. 

Meet Toderick Hollis, one of our 2021 graduates from Phillis Wheatley High School.

The brilliant student will attend Lamar University this Fall, where he plans to study business and explore how to apply both his studies and passion for social justice to improving the lives of those around him.

To mark his journey, Toderick was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from My Brother’s Keeper and like our other graduates, received a few gifts from the SJLI family, including a stole, a medal, a program certificate, and a fresh pair of Jordans thanks to our partnership with the Jordan Wings Foundation.

Urban Scholars Houston Impact Numbers

Since laying the groundwork in Houston three years ago, we’ve been tracking our impact so we can make program improvements that lead to greater gains in academic achievement. Here is a look at some of our numbers:




Where You Can Find Urban Scholars in Houston

Our Houston Urban Scholars program is an evidence-based, credit-bearing course that is embedded into the school schedules of Phillis Wheatley High School, Attucks Middle School, Clifton Middle School, Sam Houston Math,Science, and Technology Center, and Worthing Early College High School.

Bring Urban Scholars to Your Houston Campus

If you operate a school committed to improving educational outcomes for young men and women of color, we want to work with you.

Urban Scholars programming is typically offered during the school day as an elective period, or as an extra-curricular offering. All participating school sites will receive a designated school site coordinator to work directly with your selected instructors.

Instructors Receive: 

  • Complete curriculum
  • Curriculum training and ongoing support
  • Regular professional development

Students Receive: 

  • College preparation education and guidance
  • Exposure to college-level coursework
  • College field trips and tours
  • Academic and leadership retreats
  • Educational conferences and trainings
  • Scholarship assistance

Join Our Houston Urban Scholars Community

As our roots continue to grow in Houston, we welcome you to get to know us better. Join our community of folks who are ready to learn, grow, and change the lives of young men and women of color together.