"Food deserts" affect more than 500,000 Houstonians, resulting in a lack of access to fresh produce and healthy food options. Often found in predominantly minority and lower-income communities, food deserts are areas designated by U.S. Department of Agriculture in which fast-food chains and convenience stores thrive, while often-scarce supermarkets provide limited choices of healthy, fresh foods.
In an effort to combat the shortage of healthy food options in her Houston neighborhood, Yvette Leno founded Beauty's Garden, a community garden that grows vegetables and other healthy foods to educate the surrounding community about healthier eating choices. Beauty's Garden also serves to beautify the community through volunteerism, creating a sense of peace and togetherness within its region.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic assisted Ms. Leno in forming a Texas nonprofit corporation; preparing and filing federal and state tax-exempt status applications; drafting bylaws, resolutions, and a lease agreement; and reviewing and revising liability waivers for garden volunteers.
Antioch Baptist Church and Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church organized the Colored People's Festival and Emancipation Park Association and purchased 10 acres of land in 1872 for $1,000 to establish the Emancipation Park. This landmark was the first public park in Texas and one of the few municipal parks open to African Americans during the racial segregation era.
Today, the Emancipation Economic Development Council ("EEDC") seeks to revitalize the Emancipation Park neighborhood and preserve and protect the surrounding Third Ward's nearly 150-year-old history. Specifically, the EEDC aims to create and maintain a resilient, dynamic, and economically prosperous community and culturally rich African-American neighborhood where people live, work, and thrive.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic assisted the EEDC in becoming a Texas non-profit corporation by preparing formation documents such as the certificate of formation, bylaws, and a conflicts of interest policy and by aiding in the completion of an application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
To learn more about the EEDC, click here.
Despite a wave of gentrification that has displaced some of the historically black neighborhood's long-time residents, many residents of the Greater Third Ward remain invested in and committed to their historic neighborhood. Residents, such as Assata Richards, seek to invest in the area while maintaining its historic identity and culture. Quoted in a Houston Chronicle article, Ms. Richards sated, "This is a historic moment. There has never been an African-American community in a city this size [to] take on gentrification." Ms. Richards believes that the Third Ward has an unprecedented opportunity to control its own destiny.
To ensure that belief is realized, Ms. Richards has joined with a group of local African American women, Donna Subulade, Candice Wilson, and Sasha Legette, to form Third Ward Cooperative Community Builders. Through this unique worker-owned cooperative, its founders and other members of the community hope to encourage equitable development while creating opportunities for and directly supporting the Third Ward's own residents so that they may own, operate, and financially benefit from the redevelopment of their neighborhood.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic is currently assisting the founders of the cooperative with matters related to the formation of the entity such as the filing of a certificate of formation and the drafting of bylaws.
In 2007, Marques Raven started his own truck driving business, but, after 10 successful years, the oil market crash of 2011 resulted in the closing of his business. Despite the business closure, Marques's entrepreneurial drive persisted. In 2012, after meeting his wife Jeneé Raven, founder of The Woman's Earth—another Clinic client, Marques and his wife began to lay the groundwork for their future businesses.
Today, Mr. Raven, also known as "Baba CupCake," is a classically trained chef who studied at the Art Institute of Houston and worked for several of Houston's better-known kitchens such as the Houstonian, Mark's, and Hilton-Americas-Houston. In 2014, Mr. Raven founded The Luvin Oven, a vegan bakery in Houston's Greater Third Ward that aims to teach community members to live healthier lives. Presently, the bakery caters mostly to office and private parties. However, Mr. Raven ultimately seeks to expand his business in the larger grocery chain retail market.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic is currently assisting Mr. Raven in the pursuit of his business goals. Student attorneys have aided Mr. Raven in the formation of his business.
To learn more about The Luvin Oven, click here.
The Woman's Earth was founded in 2013 by Jeneé Raven, wife of Chef Marques Raven— founder of The Luvin Oven and also a Clinic client. As a "Self-Love Advocate," Mrs. Raven seeks to curate sacred spaces for women to heal their minds, bodies, and spirits. The broader purpose of the organization is to partner with woman-owned businesses to bring workshops, classes, retreats and events that exemplify the businesses' core values of empowering women.
Currently, Mrs. Raven operates a home wellness studio located in Houston's historic Third Ward where women can participate in yoga, dance fitness, spa services, and empowerment events and has expanded her wellness movement to include international "Self-Love" retreats.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic is currently assisting The Women's Earth and Mrs. Raven by counseling her on issues related to entity structure, organizational documents, and the requirements of certifications as a Women Business Enterprise and a Minority Business Enterprise.
Click here to learn more about The Women's Earth and how they empower women.
Despite the increase in women entering the medical field, recent findings suggest that men continue to make-up between 66 and 69 percent of all doctors. More troublesome, however, is the fact that women doctors tend to leave the medical field at higher rates than their male counterparts.
Aware of the many challenges facing women doctors, Women Leading Medicine ("WLM") aims to create a body that represents women private practitioner doctors, an underrepresented group in the medical field. Formed in 2016 by a group of women doctors, WLM assists female private practitioners, as well as female doctors that seek to enter private practice, by conducting educational and informational events.
For example, in 2016 and 2017, WLM hosted networking events to connect women doctors with each other and held events featuring speakers such as attorneys and community leaders to educate, encourage, and inspire female doctors to maintain their entrepreneurial spirit.
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic is currently assisting WLM
with formation documents such as the certificate of formation, bylaws, and organizational
resolutions for its board of directors. The clinic is also assisting WLM with its application for
501(c)(6) tax-exempt status.