The history of Texas is full of big dreamers, often from humble backgrounds, who worked hard and became the leaders we know today.
At The University of Texas at Austin, the University Leadership Network (ULN) serves first-generation and low-income students who are working hard to become leaders of tomorrow. Through a unique program that combines scholarships with experiential learning opportunities, academic resources, leadership training and professional development, ULN ensures that these students get the support they need to thrive personally, succeed academically, and graduate in four years.
UT can’t do this work alone. Here, we look at a partner whose support makes ULN a success—and whose storied history connects great Texans of the past with the future leaders of our state.
A Thriving Texas
Even early in his career, Mr. Jones knew that his business interests would prosper in a thriving community. At the height of a financial panic in the early 1900s, he invested in the future by helping to develop Houston’s central business district and ship channel.
His contributions caught the eye of President Woodrow Wilson, who appointed Mr. Jones to the leadership of the American Red Cross during World War I. Over the next few decades, Mr. Jones would continue his public service in Washington, D.C., serving as the chair of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation during the Great Depression and as the secretary of commerce.
“ULN fundamentally changes the opportunities available for families in some of our most challenged communities,” says Stern. “And beyond helping individual students and their families, ULN is strengthening an institution that can support so many more.”
To that end, Houston Endowment has invested in the ULN model so the program can be scaled up. “Here’s a program we believe is as impactful as any we’ve seen,” says Stern. “These evidence-based approaches can benefit students across The University of Texas at Austin and serve as a model for other colleges and universities.”
Investing in systems that support at-risk college students continues the Joneses’ work of building a Houston and a Texas where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
“I think Jesse Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones would be very pleased and excited by ULN,” says Stern. “It gets to the heart of what they were trying to do.”