A Letter from Our CEO Financials Introduction Earn Learn Belong Get Involved HUMAN Download Printed Version

We believe in hope, humanity
and serving people.

2016-2017 Annual Report

A Letter from Our CEO

“Make a career of humanity” —Martin Luther King

For 110 years, our work has been a response to what’s happening in the world. We adapt our programs and services to serve the current needs of our neighbors. We work to help peoples’ voices be heard, find living-wage jobs and feel welcome.

We bring people together to focus on what unites us—the universal human aspirations to earn, learn and belong.

2016 was a tumultuous year. If there was ever a time when we needed to be reminded of our shared humanity, it is now. I call it being “radically human.” At BakerRipley we stand with our neighbors because of our shared beliefs about people and community.

Despite the challenges we face in this country and in this region, people still manage to care for and support one another. Houstonians always seem to step up to the challenge whether it's helping save lives during a natural disaster or voicing our opinions about policies that affect our region. But they also support and encourage one another when things are going well. There are many unreported stories of people helping each other and striving to make their neighborhoods safer, welcoming and vibrant.

This spirit of “we’re in this together” happens daily in the communities BakerRipley serves. Seeing neighbors living as friends makes the work we do worthwhile.

Angela Blanchard, President and CEO



BakerRipley Leadership & Financial Stewardship

BakerRipley is a nationally recognized community development organization that has transformed neighborhoods across Houston for more than 110 years. We’re among the top one percent of nonprofits nationwide and have 60+ locations in the area.

We serve more than half-a-million people each year delivering innovative solutions that keep our region a place of opportunity for everyone.

BakerRipley has been successful in attracting and leveraging private dollars to augment 36 public funding streams. In 2004, the agency held $38,569,140 in total assets. In 2016, our assets grew to $93,931,359. Since 2009, private philanthropic investment has grown 45 percent and we intend to build on these investments in the coming years.

The agency recently undertook a $50 million capital campaign, the largest in our history, to build a new community center in East Aldine, serve more people in the southeast region, support our efforts at Gulfton and fund our endowment.

In 2018, BakerRipley will move its headquarters to a new office in the East End of Downtown Houston where our first community center, Ripley House, was established.

In the future, our leadership team will continue to guide the organization and build upon our financial strength by working with donors, businesses and government agencies to secure resources that will allow us to create and deliver flexible programs that meet the evolving aspirations of the people we serve.

Executive Leadership Team

  • Angela Blanchard, President and CEO
  • Claudia Aguirre-Vasquez, Senior Vice President, Chief Program Officer
  • Jane Bavineau, Vice President of Senior Services
  • Kate Birenbaum, Vice President of Governance
  • Ann Hilbig, Senior Vice President of Program Planning and Evaluation
  • Jeff Kramer, Vice President of Fund Development
  • Melissa Noriega, Vice President for Policy and Partnerships
  • Stephenie Schillaci Olguin, Vice President of Marketing & Communications
  • Annise Parker, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer
  • Kirk Rummel, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • Rene Solis, Senior Vice President of Public Sector Solutions

The resources we secure will allow us to create and deliver flexible programs that meet the evolving aspirations of the people we serve.

A Letter from Our CEO Introduction


In today’s culture, it’s easy to focus on what divides us—political affiliation, race, gender, immigration status or religious beliefs. At BakerRipley, we strive to build bridges between different people, connecting them to one another and facilitating conversations that lead to mutual understanding.

This has been our approach to people and community for 110 years. Rooted in the Settlement House Movement, BakerRipley has always stayed true to our history of democracy and inclusion.

At the end of 2016, our organization, formerly Neighborhood Centers, merged with the Daniel and Edith Ripley Foundation and we adopted a new agency name, BakerRipley—a name that reflects the enduring legacy of two families whose leadership bridges more than a century of visionary service and connects the organization to our future.

Through our recognized and unique approach to community engagement, we work side-by-side with community leaders and residents to discover their strengths, craft a collective vision, and design programs and services to create opportunities where they may not have existed before.

The Houston area provides the perfect environment for the work that we do. This is the most ethnically and racially diverse metropolitan area in the United States. In fact, close to one in four Houstonians is foreign born and the region will continue to attract people seeking stability and opportunity. We embrace new neighbors and friends with open arms. Houston hospitality means that leaders and neighbors make a way for themselves while paving a way for others.

This city relies on BakerRipley to connect people with the opportunities to be successful however they choose to define it. We build on Houston’s dynamic economy by delivering community-based solutions that enable individuals to fulfill their aspirations to earn, learn and belong.

Financials Earn


BakerRipley connects people to better paying jobs so they can earn more, keep more of what they earn and spend more time with their families.

Over the course of 2016, BakerRipley’s 11 Workforce Solutions offices provided career counseling, education scholarships and employment connections to more than 192,942 job seekers. About a third of those seekers reported a 20 percent increase in income as a result of our support, and due to good recruiting and assessment approaches, our certification programs have a 75 percent completion rate.

In 2015, BakerRipley launched ASPIRE in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and the Greater Houston Partnership with a goal of connecting 1,000 underemployed individuals to training and employment in middle skill careers by the end of 2018. Since our launch, 29 employers including Fluor, Walgreen’s, Trio Electric and Windcom Services signed agreements to place our clients in living-wage jobs.

At Trio Electric, apprentices start out earning $13 per hour and receive a pay raise twice a year. At the end of the four-year program, their pay rate reaches $22.50 per hour. Once apprentices complete the program, they can take an exam to become a journeyman electrician—earning $34 per hour or more with four years’ experience.

The resources we secure will allow us to create and deliver flexible programs that meet the evolving aspirations of the people we serve.

Fueling Houston’s Entrepreneurial Aspirations

BakerRipley’s small business program helps entrepreneurs to create new businesses, or expand their existing ones. Since 2015, the program has helped launch 12 new businesses, and create and retain 59 jobs.

Our new East Aldine Community Campus will provide programs and resources which support residents’ entrepreneurial spirit and desire for self-sufficiency, like small business incubation, workforce readiness and a Maker Market for residents to learn, make and sell.

Innovation in Community

When BakerRipley first started working in East Aldine, people wondered, “Why?” This unincorporated area had been written off by many people in the region. Not us.

We saw potential. We saw hard-working and motivated people. Local residents started businesses out of necessity because major retailers refused to open stores to serve the most basic needs of the area. Their innovation and ingenuity has helped to make East Aldine a thriving community.

In 2016, BakerRipley broke ground on a new community center in East Aldine. The campus, built on land donated by the East Aldine Management District, will include a 911 call center to provide an estimated 175 immediate jobs, a Lone Star College campus, a tax-preparation service, retail training and employment opportunities, a health center, a play area for kids and more.

One of the most prominent features of the new community center will be the new Fab Lab, a digital makerspace. The initiative is possible thanks to a partnership between BakerRipley, Chevron and the Fab Lab Foundation.

“We believe that STEM education is vital to innovation, to the ability to create good jobs, and to maintaining our country's economic strength and competitiveness,” said Joni Baird, Chevron Public Relations. “Working in the Fab Lab, residents can develop the critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills they will need to compete both locally and in the global marketplace.”

This will be the first Fab Lab in the region, and it will be available to everyone in the Houston area who has an interest in digital technology. The Fab Lab will provide tools that enable people to go from concept to drawing, models to prototype and redesign to final product.

Tax Centers

BakerRipley is committed to the hard-working families of Houston who need every dollar of their tax refund, which can represent up to two months of earnings.

In addition to being a trusted provider of free quality tax services, we offer clients the opportunity to participate in the United Way SAVE program. Participants who save a portion of their refund in a Promise Credit Union savings account through the end of the year receive a 25 percent match in January, up to $250.

2016 Stats:

  • 36,890 Tax returns filed
  • $51.5M in net refunds
  • $6M in tax preparation fees saved
  • 432 active volunteers
  • 22,992 volunteer hours
  • 397 SAVE Accounts committed
  • $326,936 savings committed

BakerRipley Nurtures a New Generation of Entrepreneurs

Meet Lorena Lock, winner of BakerRipley Entrepreneur Academy 2016 Pitch Event and owner of a Million Cakes

“Never in a million years did I imagine I would open my own business,” says Lock. “I had doubts, but then I thought, if we can get sixteen cakes out of my little home kitchen in one week, nothing can stop us.”

When a Million Cakes opened its doors on December 7th, it marked the first time an academy graduate has opened a commercial retail shop.

Read More About Lorena's Story

Introduction Learn


BakerRipley understands the importance of a good education. It is the most valuable thing a person can possess. We offer Early Childhood Education, Charter Schools and Adult Education to help people achieve their personal and professional goals.

Head Start

As the largest Head Start provider in the region, our early educational programs provide children and their families the skills needed to be ready for the demands of school.

In fact, 97 percent of our Head Start graduates are kindergarten ready.

Head Start works with low-income families to engage the whole family in the educational process. During the 2015-2016 school year, 334 Early Head Start and Head Start parent volunteers contributed more than 97,736 hours of service. A particular area of success has been in the involvement of fathers in the program. We design activities and events to include dads and keep them engaged in their children’s education.

As a result, 97 percent of our Head Start graduates are kindergarten ready.

Our results reach far beyond kindergarten. Through a third-party study conducted by Houston Independent School District, BakerRipley Head Start students had the highest percentage of children who met the STAAR Level II standard on the third-grade reading and mathematics tests of all economically disadvantaged students in the district—they also obtained the highest mean scale scores among the other three area Head Start Agencies.

Not only do our Head Start programs benefit the students, but they also benefit their parents. Our program is free to those who qualify, so working parents don’t have to worry about expensive child-care. It also gives parents time to further their education. Moms and dads who drop their kids off at the Head Start locations near our centers can take language, computing or GED classes for themselves.

Charter Schools Rooted in Community

BakerRipley believes that transformation happens when families and communities work toward common goals of learning to improve themselves and their neighborhoods. This has been our approach to education for more than 100 years, and why all of our Charter Schools are embedded directly into the community center sites.

Today, our Promise Community Schools include five campuses, including Charter School Without Walls, with an enrollment of 2,024 children in Pre-K through 8th grade.

Tying the community to the education of students has proven to be invaluable both inside and outside of the classroom, which creates a level of success unique to our charter campuses.

In addition to concentrating on academic performance we also look carefully at attendance and the “absence of” suspensions. BakerRipley Charter Schools have a district wide attendance rate of 95 percent, which both demonstrates the depth of engagement for the entire family and that we rarely suspend kids—setting us apart from almost every other school district, charter or traditional.

Adult Education

Sometimes people are unable to complete their formal education. BakerRipley’s GED Program is their path to a brighter future.

Three years ago, we had five students in our GED program total. In 2016, we enrolled 625. Ninety-six percent of those tested made significant gains in math, reading and writing skills based on TABE pre/posttest scores.

People who at one time gave up or were abandoned by educational institutions are now engaging and believing in their own ability to learn.

BakerRipley also offers business and workplace training skills like English and computer competency, as well as health and wellness classes like cooking courses and ZUMBA.

Jeanette Lemelle, a Third Grade Teacher at Ripley House Elementary, Helps Students Build on Their Strengths

"Every year children come to me having learned so much from the world they already live in. And contrary to popular belief, my job is not to fill a child with knowledge, teach them my way and create a new path for them. My job is to hold their hand as they navigate their own path, guiding them so that they can reach their full potential."

Jeanette Lemelle, Ripley House Elementary

Earn Belong


We all yearn to belong. It’s in our DNA. Making connections with other people is essential to our emotional, physical and mental well-being.

The supportive environment in our five community centers can be life-changing. The centers are seamlessly integrated into the neighborhoods, and the model we use flips the script on the way many traditional community service organizations operate. Instead of focusing solely on the community’s needs, BakerRipley caters to the community’s strengths.

Helping Newcomers Find Welcome

“Walls don’t work, there’s never been a fence or a wall high enough to contain human aspiration.” —Angela Blanchard

Houston has always been a destination for immigrants. Hard work and determination are built into the city, and those who came here willing to dig in were often rewarded with opportunity.

Alice Graham Baker, our founder, wanted to pave the way for everyone arriving in Houston to access opportunity. Through her work with the Settlement House Movement, recent immigrants found community, safety and a path to stability.

BakerRipley continues to make this region a welcoming place of opportunity for everyone. We boldly stepped out in defense of immigration long before others were willing to publicly challenge negative rhetoric and worked together to build programs and policies to help immigrants integrate and thrive in their new communities.

Today, our immigration services help newcomers find work, navigate the legal system, and indentify educational opportunities for themselves and their children. In 2016, 7,150 clients received immigration services, including 2,964 who received an attorney consultation. Since 2010 we have helped neighbors complete 2,389 citizenship applications. This is only a small percentage of those who need our help—there is still work left to be done.

Why We Must Create a Welcoming Houston

We know that our neighbors possess the strengths and assets to contribute to our communities. A recent report from the Partnership for a New American Economy supports our belief that immigrants make significant contributions—their spending power and roles in key industries as leaders and job creators only strengthen our economy and support why their welcome is not an option—it’s a necessity.

In the Houston region alone, foreign-born residents contributed $116.5 billion to the region’s GDP and held $34.1 billion in spending power in 2014, according to newamericaneconomy.com. “The greatest cities of the future are those that can turn desperation into aspiration, and aspiration into participation,” says Angela Blanchard.

Giving Older Adults a Sense of Belonging

For many people, dementia means a life filled with isolation, loneliness and detachment. But this doesn’t have to be the only option. BakerRipley’s new story on aging focuses on connection, community and making an impact.

The BakerRipley Dementia Day Center, is the only center in the region that accepts individuals with dementia in moderate and late-moderate stages. In a state that’s home to 360,000 older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, the center is an essential support system in the Houston area.

To help older adults connect with one another and explore their passions and hidden talents, BakerRipley offers Life Enrichment programs such as Golden Years Theater Class, meditation class, garden club and art class.

We offer specialized programming for participants to engage their community through field trips (a.k.a. Community Connections), and community service projects—empowering senior citizens to feel a greater sense of purpose.

“When we first started, our art program consisted of a few coloring books and crayons,” said Katie Scott, Sr. Director of Dementia and Caregiver Support Services. “Now our seniors are creating detailed paintings that display their creativity and talent.”

Supporting Caregivers Helps Strengthen Communities

As our population ages, we cannot overlook the importance of caregivers, those who provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. They work hard to care for their loved ones while managing career, household, and all other aspects of their lives.

In 2013, Family caregivers in Texas provided 3.1 billion hours of care —worth an estimated $35 billion — to their parents, spouses, partners and adult loved ones in 2013.

Caregivers are critical to “aging in place” goals and maximizing the health of vulnerable seniors, but they are at risk for exhaustion and isolation. Of caregivers, 40 percent to 70 percent have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

At BakerRipley, we recognize that caregivers need additional levels of support. Our launch of a dependable online “meet-up” for family caregivers has turned into a lifeline, not only improving outcomes for senior cared for, but providing encouragement and improved emotional functioning for family caregivers.

By utilizing our dementia specific adult day center, costly nursing home placement can be prevented or delayed. In 2016, the national average cost of assisted living was $45,900/year and the average cost of nursing homes was $84,300/year compared to $17,290 for someone to attend our center 5 days a week at full fee.

Through our programs and services, families can continue caring for their loved one at home, which ultimately leads to better quality of life outcomes and overall cost savings. Most of all, we help to build strong connections for the caregiver and the ones they care for.

Second Acts: Helping Seniors Realize Their Genius

Are older adults geniuses? According to Dr. Virgil Wood, a former lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King, people who reach elderhood can be considered geniuses based on what they have encountered and endured through the years.

“Maybe they haven’t processed it, but they have wisdom locked up inside and it won’t manifest itself until the right questions are asked,” offers Dr. Wood. By helping older adults understand the value of their own experience, their wisdom can then be passed on to younger generations.

Dr. Wood is on a mission to help seniors realize their genius, and he’s joined forces with our Senior Services Division to make that happen.

Growing older should be something to look forward to—a time to be connected, get involved and explore new interests. To that end, we’re designing a pilot program called “Excavating Wisdom and Reframing Narratives” which consists of poetry workshops where paired seniors and young kids share their experiences and learn how to capture them through poetry.

“The wisdom of the old is how they have not only survived, but helped others thrive. It’s a proven wisdom,” explains Dr. Wood. “The young people have wisdom potentiality. It’s dormant, but it’s there and it won’t blossom until these intergenerational conversations take place.”

This is all part of a nationwide initiative by The Alliance called The Second Acts Strong Communities program. Their mission is to help its network of human-serving organizations leverage the time and expertise of older adults. BakerRipley was selected as one of ten demonstration sites in the country that will be piloting the program.

Ultimately the goal is to give seniors a renewed sense of purpose and connection. By sharing their life journey with youth, they are helping younger generations prepare for the future with valuable life lessons.

Read More of This Story

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Our work is only possible because of people like you. Our donors, volunteers and supporters help us to make this region a welcoming place of opportunity for everyone.


Your gift helps families all over Houston earn, learn and belong. Your support means more than half-a-million neighbors get a chance at a better life.


In 2016, 7,701 volunteers provided 236,312 volunteer hours in support of our programs, services and events. You can share your time, talents and creativity help make our communities stronger and build a brighter future for us all. Sign up to volunteer today.

TXU Energy BakerRipley Turkey Trot

2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the TXU Energy BakerRipley Turkey Trot. By participating in the event, you help to keep Houston a welcoming place of opportunity where everyone can earn, learn and belong.

Heart of Gold Luncheon

In 2018, more than 800 leaders from Houston’s business, political and philanthropic communities will attend our annual Heart of Gold Luncheon to discuss this region’s most pressing issues. Join us on February 14, 2018.


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Thank You to Angela Blanchard

BakerRipley would like to thank Angela Blanchard for her 30 years of dedicated service to this agency. Her leadership and vision has not only transformed this agency, but it has also transformed the Houston region.

Belong HUMAN

For over a century, BakerRipley has built communities around people and their aspirations. We exist for this purpose—for connecting people to resources, people to opportunities and people to each other.

And yet, we find ourselves living in a time where our differences are making headlines while our humanity, our common ground, bows to fear. People are frightened and frustrated. They are desperate to do something, to take action—but they need leaders willing to lay the groundwork.


Through HUMAN, BakerRipley will speak to the issues that matter right now—not just in Houston, but globally.

The issues our nation is struggling with are being addressed by BakerRipley here and now—in our neighborhoods, at our community centers and in our classrooms. There’s no one more suited for this work than BakerRipley—and you, our supporters.

HUMAN gives people the opportunity to bridge the gap between the problems they see in the world and the solutions that could make it better.

HUMAN will create a place where important conversations can happen, where people can identify avenues for getting involved in our work and where we can begin breaking down the barriers that keep people from connecting, sharing, supporting and learning from each other

It will be our conversation starter and our connector, drawing the simplest possible line between two people:


Visit BakerRipley.org/HUMAN to create your own HUMAN portrait and submit your story.

You can also use #HUMAN to find, read and share other people’s stories on social media or to share your own with @BakerRipley.

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