Houston Mayor Annise Parker welcomed thousands of students and their parents to the 3rd Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fest on Saturday, held at the University of Houston Main Campus. Joining Mayor Parker for the opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting were fest presenting sponsor Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC, event host University of Houston, donors, participating agencies, volunteers and Houston City Council officials.
“We are excited about what we have accomplished. Learning and excelling in school is not easy. It takes hard work. With the generous support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers, we have made sure that our students have the basic tools they need for a positive start of the school year.”
“Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLP are proud to partner with the City of Houston and University of Houston for this year’s Back to School Fest,” said Dr. Frazier Wilson, Vice President and Manager of Social Investment with Shell Oil Company Foundation. “Giving back to the community is core to who we are as a company.”
Intended to serve economically disadvantaged students grades K-5 who reside in the City of Houston, the purpose of the fest is to help students and parents get ready for the new school year. More than 25,000 students and their families benefited from the day-long event, which took place at UH’s Athletics/Alumni Center and Hofheinz Pavilion.
The fest facilities were abuzz with activity and excitement as students and their parents viewed demonstrations about fire safety, oral health and library services and learned about hurricane preparedness and crime prevention. Staff with City departments, University of Houston colleges and community agencies talked to parents about available programs, services and resources. Blue Cross Blue Shield Care Van medical staff administered immunizations to students. Houston Food Bank and Target Hunger provided supplies of nonperishable food to families in attendance. For students, the highlight of the fest was receiving their backpacks filled with an assortment of schools supplies. All services and offerings were provided free of charge.
“We believe it is important to support our students so that they do well in school and prepare for college and a bright future,” said Wilson.
Mayor Parker specifically sought a university campus venue for the fest in order to introduce students and families to a college setting and encourage them to start preparing and planning for college.
“We not only equipped students with the supplies they need for a positive start of the new school year and connected parents to essential year-round services, but we also introduced families to a Tier One institution and the possibility of a college education,” said the mayor. “Many of the families we met have never stepped onto a college campus. We want these young students and their parents to start thinking about college and to make a college degree their goal.”
“We are pleased to be a partner, and we are especially proud that the University of Houston hosted this important community event,” said UH President Renu Khator. “I hope the visit to our beautiful campus will inspire all the young students to do well in school, earn their diplomas and come back in a few years. We can always use more Cougars.”
Participation in the fest was by advance registration only. Families who were not able to pre-register to participate in the event are advised to call the 2-1-1 United Way Helpline for referrals to community agencies offering back-to-school supplies and resources.
The Mayor’s Back to School Fest is administered by the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. The following City departments contributed to the event: City of Houston 311 Help & Info, a division of Administration & Regulatory Affairs, Health and Human Services, Houston Fire Department, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Police Department, Houston Public Library, Municipal Courts Department, Office of Emergency Management, Public Works and Engineering and Solid Waste Management.
To learn more about the Department of Neighborhoods, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.