Educational Institutions

Project GRAD Houston

Houston, TX


Project GRAD improves lives in low-income communities by helping individuals develop and achieve their educational aspirations.

Ruling Year


President & CEO

Dr. Ann B. Stiles

Main Address

3000 Richmond Avenue Suite 400

Houston, TX 77098 USA


College Success Financial Aid College Readiness College Access





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Student Services and Organizations (B80)

Secondary/High School (B25)

Higher Education Institutions (B40)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

Of the five million students enrolled in Texas public schools 60% are classified as economically disadvantaged. Of those students, it is forecasted only 10% will earn any credential beyond high school (Texas Tribune, Higher Education Outcomes, 2015). According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the demand for skilled and knowledgeable workers continues to outpace workforce supply in Texas. Today, 38% of 25-34 year old Texans hold a post-secondary credential, yet by 2030 Texas will have a workforce need for 60%. When compared to the national average of 42%, Texas faces a serious challenge to remain competitive. If success in education after high school is achieved by only 1 out of every 10 students from our most rapidly growing populations, then the vast majority of young Houstonians will compete for the lowest level jobs, threatening the future prosperity of the Greater Houston area. Success in education that yields readiness for employment is the only solution.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

cafécollege Houston

Project GRAD Scholars

College Institute Summer Programs

College Success Coaching

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Project GRAD Houston's mission is to improve lives in low-income communities by helping individuals develop and achieve their educational aspirations. Kathryn and Jim Ketelsen founded Project GRAD over twenty five years ago with the belief that with the right support and motivation, college and a brighter future are possible for all. Project GRAD has since grown to serve multiple low-income communities in the Greater Houston area, providing relevant programming and support to youth and young adults as they strive to create a better future through education. GRAD has expanded collaborations, positioning the organization to expand its reach with increased sustainability. Together with the City of Houston and the Houston Public Library, GRAD opened cafécollege Houston in December 2015, Houston's first community-based college and career center offering open access to information and support to all. In 2018, GRAD expanded the café model to Baytown through a collaboration with Lee College.

Project GRAD reaches individuals and families from low-income communities: through school-based collaborations, and through the GRADcafé model, an open access community-based delivery of services where clients receive information to guide their college planning. GRAD Advisors welcome over 5,000 visitors and serve over 2,600 individuals through the GRADcafé model each year. Project GRAD serves: Traditional students and families from low-income communities who are enrolled in the education pipeline who are working towards high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion; or youth and young adults who are 16-24 years old not enrolled in school and unemployed/underemployed and are seeking assistance in becoming reengaged in the education system for future employment opportunities. GRAD services are delivered from community-based locations using a coaching framework. Trained coaches advise clients on the college application and financial aid processes; academic readiness for college; career interests; and mentoring. Individuals have the opportunity to participate in the following programs: - Project GRAD Aspiring Young Adults (AYA) – Opportunity Youth (16-24 year olds not enrolled in school and unemployed/underemployed) commit to an intensive coaching program designed to guide and support them in: 1) identifying and planning for employment in high demand career opportunities in Houston, 2) applying for and accessing resources to pay for best in class education and training, and 3) successfully enrolling in and completing industry credentials, ultimately gaining employment into desired fields. - Project GRAD Scholars – Upon enrolling in 9th grade, or earlier, students become Project GRAD Scholars. They and their parents commit to making college and career readiness a priority and to achieve important milestones. GRAD's rigorous, well-defined curriculum, GRAD CLASS ACT, leads Scholars step-by-step along the path to college. Along the way, Scholars have the opportunity to earn badges from GRAD's BadgeUp Challenge. These badges are credentials designed to document a Scholar's incremental progress leading to college readiness. - GRAD College and Career Institutes – During multi-day programming, students tour the college campus, receive information about college applications and financial aid, investigate career options, and experience college classroom instruction related to certificates and degrees needed for specific high-demand careers. As a result, students better understand potential education pathways – and the choices they have in order to access the future they hope to create for themselves. - GRAD College Success Coaching – GRAD's iMentor for College Success programming, which matches GRAD Scholars, who receive mentoring through text-based reminders, with volunteer mentors from the business community.

GRAD's many years of service to individuals from low-income communities in the Greater-Houston area have resulted in the successful community college or university enrollment of more than 8,000 individuals. GRAD Scholars are succeeding in college at more than twice the rate of their peers across Texas. To date, 57% have graduated or remain enrolled. Of the GRAD Scholars who have completed a credential, 36% have earned a community college workforce certificate or associate's degree, and 64% have earned a bachelor's degree. GRAD programming and advisors help individuals navigate the process of career planning, college access, and college success. GRAD's success with at-risk communities and longstanding commitment to community engagement and collaboration have distilled into a demand driven “café" model, open to any one of any age through community-based “café" locations, expanding our support to include Opportunity Youth as well as traditional high school and college students.

Participation in GRAD programming includes signed commitment forms, allowing Project GRAD to track clients' progress towards short-term and long-term goals including post-secondary enrollment, persistence, and completion. National Student Clearinghouse is the primary source for community college and university enrollment and completion. In addition, GRAD maintains data sharing agreements with partnering Independent School Districts and charter schools for additional data collection and reporting.

Today, GRAD is Houston's premier organization supporting individuals on the journey to and through college. GRAD's impact is evidenced through:
- Approximately 8,000 students have enrolled in community college or university with GRAD's support
- Approximately 60% of students who receive GRAD's support are either completing college or remain enrolled, more than double the rate of success of their peers throughout Texas.
- Over 5,000 individuals visited cafécollege each year since its opening.
With the opening of GRADcafé Baytown in 2018, GRAD will expand to each an addition 5,000 youth and young adults annually with career planning, college access, and college success support.

External Reviews

External Assessments

Evaluated via the Impact Genome Project (2017)


Project GRAD Houston

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Jun 30

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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity