Department of Neighborhoods

Press Release

Mayor’s Back to School Fest Equips Thousands of Students and Parents for the New School Year
4th annual event presented by Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC, hosted by University of Houston, encourages students to work hard, aim for college

August 16, 2014 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker today welcomed thousands of students and their parents to the 4th Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fest, held in the Athletics/Alumni Center and Hofheinz Pavilion on the University of Houston Main Campus.  Joining Mayor Parker for the opening program and ribbon-cutting ceremony were fest presenting sponsor Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC, event host University of Houston, participating agencies, contributors and volunteers.

Approximately 25,000 students and their parents participated in the fest, which is designed to help economically disadvantaged Houston students grades K-5 prepare for the new school year.  Students received free school supplies, immunizations, health screenings, haircut and uniform vouchers, underwear and other amenities.  Families were also connected families to a wide range of health and social services offered by community agencies year-round.

“This event is a fine example of how the public and private sectors work together to meet a community need,” said Mayor Parker.  “We are excited about what we have accomplished today, ensuring that our students have the basic tools they need to learn.  We have also empowered parents with referrals to community services that can help keep their families healthy, and programs that can help their children excel in school.  By introducing families to a Tier One institution, we’ve introduced them to the possibility of a college education.  We want to inspire these young students and their parents to make obtaining a college degree a future goal.”

“The Back to School Fest demonstrates the power of community, education and business working together to improve outcomes in student achievement,” said Dr. Frazier K. Wilson, Vice President, Shell Oil Company Foundation and Manager of Social Investment. “This partnership aligns with Shell and Motiva’s commitment to cultivating a network that supports the development of STEM careers and other disciplines that add to the economic strength and stability of our vibrant communities.”

The fest offered students and parents an array of free health services, including immunizations, dental, vision and glucose screenings and referrals for hearing tests.  Displays and interactive demonstrations spotlighted crime prevention, hurricane preparedness and fire safety.  City, UH and community agency representatives visited with parents to inform them about community programs and resources.

For students, the highlight of the day was receiving their backpacks filled with an assortment of school supplies.  The event venue underlined the fest's core purpose of promoting education, givng families the opportunity to experience a college campus setting and encouraging them to start thinking about and planning for college. 

“The University of Houston welcomes the thousands of local students and families taking part in this event on our campus,” said UH President Renu Khator.  “We recognize the importance of these young students feeling well prepared as they head into the school year.  Our University is pleased to help them in partnership with Mayor Parker, the City of Houston and so many Houston area businesses and organizations.  We believe in the power of education and, as these families visit UH, we hope they are inspired to start considering their plans for college.  We look forward to these students earning their diplomas and coming back in a few years as 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.

Presenting Sponsor:  Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLP
Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future. Shell Oil Company is a leading oil and gas producer in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, a recognized pioneer in oil and gas exploration and production technology and one of America’s leading oil and natural gas producers, gasoline and natural gas marketers and petrochemical manufacturers.

Host & Sponsor:  University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education.  UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships.  Located in the nation’s fourth largest city, UH serves more than 39,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.  For more information about UH, visit the university’s newsroom.

Participating Sponsors
Kroger, Undies for Everyone, First Service Residential, Summit Dental Center, Texas Children’s Health Plan, CenterPoint Energy, CHI St. Luke’s Medical Center, Comcast, Fiesta Mart, TAM International and Union Pacific Railroad. 

Participating City Departments
311 Service Center, Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, Administration & Regulatory Affairs; Department of Health and Human Services; Houston Fire Department; Houston Parks & Recreation Department; Houston Police Department; Houston Public Library, Municipal Courts Department; Office of Emergency Management; Public Works and Engineering Department; and Solid Waste Management Department.

The Mayor’s Back to School Fest is administered by the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, sponsored in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.  For more information call 832-393-0832 or visit www.houstontx/neighborhoods.