OFA Winter 2024

21 Feb, 24

Read the One for All Newsletter Online

Need to use a screen reader or translate the text into another language? Below is the text in this issue of the OFA.

Page 2

Message From Your Commissioner

Dear Friends,

Emblazoned on the cover of this publication, you’ll discover an inspiring symbol of freedom that we proudly introduced to Harris County in 2023.  This striking bronze “freedom marker” was donated by William O. Perkins III and pays tribute to a courageous formerly enslaved individual known simply as “Ben,” who seized his chance for liberty on that historic day, Sept. 13, 1864, here in Harris County.

What makes this installation so compelling is its ability to propel us forward by forcing us to reckon with our past and current injustices. Safeguarding and confronting our history is more critical than ever at a time when efforts to erase history and our hard-fought rights and freedoms are on the rise. Through this monument’s homage to Ben, we are compelled to consider how past injustices continue to cast their long shadow on our present. And through his brave act of defiance and self-determination, we should all be inspired to fight for our future as Ben did.

That determination is needed now more than ever. We are currently witnessing a coordinated campaign that seeks to erase and manipulate history along with attempts to roll back rights and freedoms we’ve earned over generations. Many states are banning books and outright removing libraries from schools. LGBTQ people’s stories are being suppressed, and their rights are under attack. Reproductive freedoms have been almost completely stripped away. Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are being removed. The right to vote, which is our greatest tool to push back against these oppressive policies, is under attack. 

There is hope on the horizon. In the subsequent pages, you will learn about the policies, programs, and people in Harris County that are creating a new narrative of justice and building a brighter future for our community. I encourage you to read about our work and take a moment to reflect not only on how far we’ve come since Ben’s heroic escape but also on the considerable distance that lies ahead on the path to prosperity.

Rodney Ellis

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Reproductive Freedom

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s extreme action of overturning the constitutional right to abortion in the Roe v. Wade case, Harris County has created a $6 million Reproductive Healthcare Access Fund designed to address a critical need in our community.

The fund has two goals:

  • Boosting healthcare capacity by providing funding to existing under-resourced health clinics, enabling them to enhance their capacity to offer a range of reproductive health services and screenings. By investing in these clinics, we empower them to better serve the healthcare needs of our community.
  • Investing in grassroots organizations dedicated to educating and promoting reproductive health services. Their efforts will help spread awareness and ensure that every individual in Harris County is informed about the essential reproductive healthcare services available to them.

Reproductive healthcare allows people to decide whether and when to start a family and gives people power over their own bodies. Reproductive freedom saves lives – pregnant women face an increased risk for domestic violence – and helps families improve their socioeconomic status. This fund represents a significant investment in the health and well-being of our community, and it underscores our dedication to defending the reproductive rights that have been a cornerstone of our society for decades.

Harris County

  • 2 million people of reproductive age (15-44)
  • 18.4% uninsured rate
  • Limited access to affordable and quality childcare
  • No paid family and medical leave
  • One of the country’s highest rates of maternal mortality

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We Stand with the Banned

  • #1 State with Most Attempts to Ban/Restrict Books in 2023
  • 2,300+ Titles Targeted in Texas

The Right to an Education is Under Attack

Austin Leadership’s attack on public education- including banning books, ending diversity equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, targeting trans youth, and removing college professors-undermines our education system, erodes our economy and opens up our classrooms to extremist intrusion.

  • Texas leads the nation in banned books for at least the second straight year.
  • HISD teachers are quitting at twice therate of last year.
  • Librarian positions at 28 Houston ISD schools were eliminated.
  • School libraries were turned into discipline centers.

These efforts are not only a threat to our freedom of expression but also a direct attack on the principles of equality, justice, and understanding.

We Will Not Let Them Rewrite History

Harris County is fighting back, working to protect the “freedom to read.”

We pledge to continue the fight against those who seek to rewrite history, to censor the stories that have shaped our communities, and to limit access to the rich tapestry of human experiences.

  • Launched Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools, a literacy enrichment program designed to serve children and young adults in communities where quality academic enrichment programming is limited, cost-prohibitive, ornonexistent. In partnership with schools, faith and community-based organizations, municipalities,and colleges and universities, the CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and generates positive attitudes toward learning, while connecting the needs of children and families to appropriate resources in theircommunities.
  • Officially designated our Harris County Public Library system as a "book sanctuary," joining a network of 2,828 book sanctuaries across the United States.

These efforts represent our unwavering dedication to providing a safe and inclusive space where everyvoice is heard, every story is valued, and every idea is respected. Let us defend our right to read freely,learn openly, and embrace the rich mosaic of voices that make up our community.

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Growing the Next Generation of Voters

"I wanted to show the importance of the upcoming elections and the effect that would have on Black neighborhoods, particularly the over policing of Black neighborhoods." - Chris G., High School Senior

When Chris G. saw the impact of policy decisions on generations of Black families in his communities, he decided to take action. Shortly after turning 18, the Houston-area high school senior contacted Precinct One with a request: can we get more young people to the polls?

“Nobody really understood the importance of voting and the ability for that to make a change,” said Chris, who is president of his campus’s Black student union. “I wanted to show the importance of the upcoming elections and the effect that would have on Black neighborhoods, particularly the over policing of Black neighborhoods.”

Staff from Precinct One’s Community Affairs and Advocacy (CAA) team met with Chris and fellow classmates, sharing information about elections, the role of government officials, voter registration, and the process of becoming a volunteer deputy voter registrar (VDVR).

“I applied to be a voter registrar. And later we had an event on campus where other voter registrars came to campus to register people to vote,” Chris said.

Now, he’s getting other young people registered to vote—and starting to see the impact of these efforts to empower young people with knowledge about civic engagement.

"People have come to me saying, 'Oh, I didn’t know... that some of these votes came very close. It was a very close call and a few people who didn’t vote allowed for a decision to be made that was less desirable,’” he said. “People were saying, ‘Oh that just made me realize that my vote really does make a difference.'"

In months leading up to the November 2023 election, Community Affairs Advisors hosted dozens of voter education events and meetings, virtual and in-person, to empower people to exercise their fundamental right to vote. But community empowerment is a year-round endeavor at Precinct One.

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New Parks and Trails

Transformative Investments to Create Safe, Healthy, and Fun Communities

Safe, high-quality roads, trails, parks, and bikeways are essential for every neighborhood to thrive. That’s why Precinct One is committed to investing in park and bridge improvements that equitably advance opportunity and quality of life for all Harris County residents. Precinct One capital projects are under way to improve over 200 acres of greenspace, and include:

  • 10 miles of new trails
  • The precinct’s first all-inclusive playground
  • A youth bicycle training station
  • Picnic pavilions
  • Public art installations
  • Fishing piers
  • Improved waterfront and boating access


  • Hill at Sims: This project will transform the 100-acre Hill at Sims Detention Basin into a nature centered public park.
  • Tidwell Road and Bridge: This project improves the existing roadway, pedestrian connectivity, and drainage system; and raises the bridge.
  • UH Cullen Segments A&B (Third Ward): Precinct One, in partnership with the City of Houston and University of Houston, has reconstructed a 1.5-mile portion of Cullen Boulevard between N. MacGregor Blvd. and IH-45 in two phases to transform the existing thoroughfare into a beautiful, bike- and pedestrian-friendly street.
  • Brays Bayou Pedestrian/Bike Bridge: This project will provide a pedestrian-bicycle bridge and connecting trails across Brays Bayou near Braes Boulevard, linking the residential neighborhoods, Brays Bayou Greenway, and other local destinations.
  • Willow Waterhole: This project will provide 10- to 12-foot wide concrete and decomposed granite trails around Harris County Flood Control District’s Willow Waterhole detention basins between Gasmer and S. Main/US 90A.
  • Lincoln Park Improvements: This project is providing enhancements to the existing park with a new trail network within the park, new signage, landscaping, tree planting, seating areas and gathering spaces.
  • Gene Green Park Inclusive Playground: New equipment will provide safe recreation opportunities for children to play in the park and improve access to fitness equipment and exercise opportunities for all abilities.
  • Finnigan Bike Rodeo Course: Located within the existing parking lot at Finnigan Park, this project will provide a bicycle training area for children. It will teach young cyclists rules about bicycle and traffic safety in a safe, comfortable setting.

Back Cover

Bridging the Economic Divide.

We are fighting to make Harris County a place where everyone has a stable foundation and a clear path—free from unfair barriers—to prosper, thrive, and build a better life for themselves and their families.

Learn more about our efforts: HarrisProspers.com