History of Citizenship Month
The support, participation and generosity of Greater Houston allowed us to extend the breadth and reach of Citizenship Month in 2015. We look forward to do it again in 2016:
- Held more than 300 events throughout the Greater Houston Area
- Raised more than $40,000 through sponsorships and In-Kind donations
- Held a luncheon as part of the United Nations International Day of Peace at the University of Houston-Downtown September 21 with more than 100 organizational representatives
- Participation in National Service Unites Conference on Volunteering and Service Convened by Points of Light in Houston October 19-21
- Participation in the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation’s Read Across the Globe effort to promote Literacy
- Participation in Voter Registration, Voter Education, and the Walk2Vote Celebration
- The Citizenship Month Opening Event held November 5 at the Asia Society Texas Center included children reading poetry, cultural performances, and the Butterfly Project installation of origami butterflies created by artists and children throughout Houston (also installed in City Hall)
- Co-sponsorship of the 70th Anniversary of World War II Celebrating Diversity and World Peace
- Expansion of the “Rails to Restaurants” of METRO and Houston Greeters to include Eastside Rail venues and restaurants from the Near Northside
- I Am A Poet featured a reading of poems by Houston area students and local poets in celebration of the life of poetry that thrives in the greater Houston metropolitan area. Dr. Robin Davidson, Professor of English at the University of Houston Downtown and Houston’s second Poet Laureate, served as master of ceremonies for this performance of poems showcasing the richly diverse languages and cultures of our great city
- Joint Participation in the Aga Khan Foundation’s Walk/Run to End Global Poverty
- Participation in the Inaugural Houston Human Rights Day Festival held December 5 to celebrate the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948
- Participation and co-sponsorship of panels and debates for the Houston Mayoral Election in various communities and on television to ensure broad knowledge and participation for Houston’s voters
- Expansion of coverage through social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) and wider use of the organization’s website: www.citizenshipmonth.org
- Increased the number of Honorary Co-Chairs participating in the effort.
- Worked with Asia Society to host official opening event.
- Garnered official media partners as sponsors.
- Raised more money to date than any other Citizenship Week/Month effort to date.
- Awarded the committee’s first service award winner to Jeanne Haner.
- Had over 3K students participate in the Education committee, Literacy Contest, an all time high.
- Partnered with the United Nations to host a symposium as a co-branded event.
- City made Citizenship Week a month long initiative and trademark is transitioned to Citizenship Month.
- Celebrated Five Years of Community Engagement.
- UHD sponsored a kick-off luncheon for Honorary Co-Chairs and Steering Committee members in May to generate energy around the initiative.
- Enhanced partnerships with corporate, faith-based, civic and educational entities.
- Hosted an official media kick-off partnered with AGA Khan Partnership Walk.
- Increased the steering committee and outreach partners.
- International Artist Exhibit Community Art Piece was exhibited in City Hall for the month of November.
- Partnered with the Houston Dynamo
- University of Houston-Downtown Center for Public Service and Family Strengths became the major partner for the initiative.
- The first public opening was held at Neighborhood Centers, Baker-Ripley Neighborhood.
- First Rails to Restaurants partnership with METRO, UHD, HCC and spearheaded by Houston Greeters under the direction of Gordon Quan.
- Private reception held for Honorary Co-Chairs and sponsors at the Mayor and First Lady’s historic residence.
- Collaborated with the Open the Door Project to kick off the first door unveiling in the City of Houston with the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts.
- Increased the number of Honorary Co-Chairs and Committee members to include representatives from major faith-based organizations.
- Expanded the number and types of events as well thereby increasing geographic coverage.
- Inspired other cities throughout the US to host similar events, thus promoting Citizenship Week as a unique model of civic engagement.
- More than 250 people attended the Opening Event at The Houston Ballet for event holders and sponsors. Dr. Klineberg spoke on the Kinder report.
- Positioned Citizenship Week as a signature event for the City of Houston, a symbol of our city’s multicultural nature and favorable international business climate.
- Enhanced multimedia by developing a website.
When Annise Parker became Mayor for the City of Houston, she enthusiastically embraced Citizenship Week as a program that should become a permanent annual city institution that will highlight how “Houston is a city that embraces diversity and civic engagement” and “celebrates the many social and economic contributions and accomplishments made by our vast and diverse population.”
The Annual Citizenship Week program includes an Opening Ceremony attended by city-wide event host partners, volunteers and sponsors. This serves both as an act of solidarity and as a thank-you for their efforts and support. Each year we hold this event at a different location. Past host sites have included the Downtown Houston Public Library and the Baker-Ripley Center.
Highlights – 2009 & 2010
- In 2009 more than 62 events.
- In 2010 more than 102 events from over 52 organizations.
- More than 200 guests attended the grand opening celebration at the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center in Southwest Houston.
- Highlights of the evening included a welcome address by Angela Blanchard, President, Neighborhood Centers Inc., keynote address by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, vocal performance by the United Nations Association International Choir, classical music performance by Virtuosi of Houston.
- Successful media outreach campaign resulted in ad placements, television and radio appearances, including coverage from the Houston Chronicle, CBS Ch. 11, Great Day Houston, Univision Ch. 45, Univision KLAT 1010 AM, La Voz del Pueblo, KTRH, 740 AM and KIKK 650 AM
- Keynote address by the Mayor, remarks by notable Houstonians, with performing and visual arts entertainment representing the many faces of Houston.
- 2011 Opening Ceremony held at the Houston Ballet Center for Dance.
(Formerly Houston Citizenship Week)
A number of community leaders came together to discuss their common recognition of the challenges and opportunities posed by Houston’s newest round of rapid economic growth characterized by a rapidly growing diverse citizenry with neighborhoods changing in dynamic ways. These developments created both excitement and anxiety. While this phenomenon stimulated the local economy, not to mention the cultural arts and entertainment scene, many established residents were challenged with such rapid change. The growing national focus on “undocumented immigrants” and confusion over “immigration reform” overshadowed and misrepresented the fact that Houston’s diversity was much more complex. The group of community leaders who came together in response, led by members of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, created a proposal to establish an annual City of Houston Citizenship Week when Houstonians could come together to recognize and celebrate how our strength comes through diversity, as well as other common values including respect for the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The recommendation included holding the program during the third week in November, partly because it coincides with the US celebration of International Education Week, November 16-21, 2009.
Mayor Bill White encouraged and accepted the proposal, designating November 16-21, 2009 as the City of Houston First Annual Citizenship Week. In that designation:
- He affirmed that Citizenship Week would “be focusing on and celebrating how our population of so many different backgrounds is integrated into the life of our city and how this helps build cohesion and a more secure and vibrant community.”
- Houstonians came together to create over 60 events and gatherings dedicated to celebrating citizenship.