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Houston Endowment Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-05-11

At A Glance

Houston Endowment Inc.

600 Travis, Ste. 6400

Houston, TX United States 77002-3003

Telephone: (713) 238-8100


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $1,742,374,990

Total giving: $85,843,061





Additional Contact Information

E-mail and tel. for Lydia Hickey:; (713) 238-8134


Incorporated in 1937 in TX - Jesse Jones was born on Apr. 5, 1874 and grew up on his family's prosperous tobacco farm in Robertson County, Tennessee. At age 20, Mr. Jones moved from Tennessee to Texas to work at his uncle's largest lumberyard. He started building small homes south of downtown that he sold on unique, long-term installment plans. Then he began building Houston's first skyscrapers. He continued to add office buildings, movie theaters and hotels to the central business district in time for the opening of the Houston Ship Channel in 1914. Mr. Jones' success with the Ship Channel caught Pres. Woodrow Wilson's attention. When Pres. Wilson asked Mr. Jones to become director general of military relief for the American Red Cross, he accepted. After the war, Mr. Jones accompanied the president to the Paris Peace Conference and helped reorganize the Red Cross. Mr. Jones returned to Houston and married Mary Gibbs Jones in 1920. Mary Gibbs Jones was born on Apr. 29, 1872, in Mexia, Texas. During the depths of the Great Depression, Pres. Herbert Hoover asked him in 1932 to serve on the board of the newly created Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). After his inauguration, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt expanded the RFC's powers and made Mr. Jones its chairman. As World War II loomed, Mr. Jones shifted the RFC's focus from domestic economics to global defense. In 1940, Congress passed a special resolution allowing Mr. Jones to become secretary of commerce while maintaining his RFC position. After 14 years of public service in Washington, D.C., the Joneses returned to Houston in 1946 and began to focus on philanthropy. By the time Mr. Jones passed away on June 1, 1956, the endowment had helped more than 4,000 students attend 57 colleges and universities. Mrs. Jones joined Houston Endowment's board in 1954. More than 30 scholarship programs were named for Mrs. Jones, and since her death on Aug. 20, 1962, many more Houston Endowment grants have carried her name as a tribute to her public service and philanthropy

Purpose and Activities

Support primarily for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that improve life for the people of the greater Houston, TX area. Funding for programs in the arts, community enhancement, education, health, human services, the environment and neighborhood development.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Arts and Culture

The endowment supports artistic achievement, cultural knowledge and bringing activities in arts and culture to all people in the greater Houston area. It invests in appreciation, creation, culture, history, and strategic partnership. It accepts applications for: general operating support, project support, capacity building, capital improvement, innovative approaches, public policy and engagement, and research.


The program seeks to increase the percentage of students earning a postsecondary credential through its support of initiatives in early-childhood, K-12 and higher education, and the seamless transition of students throughout the educational continuum. Through its Student Success strategy the endowment seeks to improve educational outcomes and narrow the achievement gaps in greater Houston by contributing to initiatives that ensure students are ready for kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college, and complete a postsecondary certificate or degree. And through its Leadership strategy it seeks to improve educational outcomes in greater Houston by contributing to the development of effective governing boards and institutional leaders. Grantseekers are advised to communicate with Education Program staff prior to submitting a proposal not clearly aligned with stated priorities.

Employee Matching Gifts

The endowment matches gifts from employees to a variety of organizations on a two-for-one basis.


The endowment seeks to preserve valuable natural resources and cultivate healthy urban environments so that all residents can thrive as the Houston region grows. There are four areas that grantseekers should select as the primary area of their application: air, land, water and urban development. Grantseekers should communicate with staff prior to submitting a proposal that does not clearly align with stated priorities.

Grants to Individuals Program

Scholarships to graduating seniors attending Harris County public schools, TX.


The endowment supports initiatives to promote wellness, prevent disease and improve access to primary care, with a particular focus on greater Houston's uninsured, underinsured and working poor families. It invests in prevention, child and adolescent health, primary care, and organizational effectiveness. It accepts applications for: general operating support, project support, capacity building, capital improvement, innovative approaches, public policy and engagement, and research.

Human Services

The endowment supports efforts that lead people toward lives of greater independence and fulfillment. It supports a broad array of organizations and programs that provide for greater Houston's most vulnerable populations, while assisting individuals, families and communities as they seek improved lives of greater independence, productivity and enjoyment. It funds the following service areas: basic needs, vulnerable populations, safe families, children and youth, economic development and strong communities. It accepts applications for: general operating support, project support, capacity building, capital improvement, innovative approaches, public policy and engagement, and research.

The Jesse H. Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones Scholars Program

Seniors attending most Harris County, TX, public schools may apply and should see their high school college counselor for an application. Candidates are nominated by each participating high school, and a Rotary Club of Houston committee makes the final selection based on scholastic achievement, economic need, community service and leadership. Scholars are eligible to receive up to a total of $16,000 over six academic years. Payments are based on the amount of unmet need and subsidized student loans, limited to $5,000 annually. Some Scholars are likely to receive considerable monetary amounts from scholarships from the university they are attending and from other outside sources. In these cases, total payments on their Jones Scholars award may be substantially less than $16,000.These guidelines apply to all students graduating from high school.

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Community improvement
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Human services
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $1,742,374,990 (market value)

Expenditures: $125,473,338

Total giving: $85,843,061

Qualifying distributions: $92,606,797

Giving activities include:

$420,133 for 169 employee matching gifts