Friends For Life
Known for its poor, young, and mobile Hispanic population, the Gulfton community in Houston, Texas is unique in many ways. Gulfton is one of the densest communities in Houston, with 16,327 population per square mile; this compared to the City’s average of 3,500 population per square mile. While 74% of the population is Hispanic, the community is becoming more diverse, with rapidly growing African-American and Asian populations. As these trends continue, Gulfton will be one of the most diverse communities in Houston. However, common to all ethnicities is the level of poverty, with more than 62% of Gulfton residents earning incomes at or below 100% of the federal poverty line.
Gulfton also ranks as one of the youngest communities in Houston, with more than 11% – compared to the City’s average of 8% – of the total population being youth under the age of five. As a result, the three Houston Independent School District public elementary schools in the area are crowded with long waiting lists. Indeed, Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary School, which was built in 2002 to accommodate 800 students, has filled up after only four years to a school population of over 1,000. Although parents prefer not to send their children out of the neighborhood to attend school, with no other school options locally, many children were bused to other neighborhoods to go to school. Therefore, for the primarily poor, Hispanic, and young community of Gulfton, access to quality schools is especially important.
In light of these conditions, quality charter schools like Amigos Por Vida are critical to the success of Gulfton’s youth. Serving a school population of approximately 472 children, Amigos Por Vida currently spans Pre-K3 to 8th grade. The demographics of the school illuminate a large at-risk population: 99% of students are Hispanic; 1% is African-American. Ninety-eight (98%) percent of students are economically disadvantaged and 92.4% are classified as Limited English Proficient.