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History of Project Unity's Impact in The Brazos Valley
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Starting as a child abuse prevention program through Bryan ISD in 1995, known as Parents as Teachers, Project Unity has been proudly serving our community for the past 27 years! When Project Unity first opened its doors, it was located in the basement of the Bryan Adult Learning Center…a space that became known as the neighborhood “Family Center''. It was located adjacent to Carver Preschool on MLK Blvd where high crime, low educational attainment, and poor health status were prevalent. Project Unity provided child abuse prevention services while bringing agencies together to address obstacles and to bring services that families in the neighborhood were trying to access.  Forty-five different helping agencies provided services from Project Unity’s neighborhood Family Center in 1995 and it has grown and expanded into what is now known as the Community Partnership Board. Meeting bi-annually, over 350 service agency staff gather to collaborate and co-labor to meet the needs of our community together! During these early days, Project Unity also purchased a mobile unit to carry representatives from health and human services agencies into areas where they were most needed. 

 

In addition to the services from the Family Center, Project Unity held town meetings for people in the neighborhood to voice their concerns and share the needs they have regarding safety for their children.  As a result of this first meeting the two needs that were expressed, were met. The Kemp Gym was open Friday and Saturday nights with over 100 Texas A&M volunteers mentoring 200 neighborhood kids. Known as the ‘Safe Zone’, this program operated for 4 years, providing a hot meal, mentorship and a safe space for children to go on the weekends. This kept children off the streets and helped mitigate them as targets for drug, gang and prostitution activities. At the Town Hall meeting, parents testified that they had been hit by cars at a dangerous intersection when they were children going to school and the same danger was present for their children. So, in addition to the Safe Zone, a crossing guard was hired to cross children through this dangerous intersection. The Family center also met the basic needs of families with a weekly food pantry.

 

In 1998, The Bryan Adult Learning Center moved to 1700 Palasota Drive and Bryan ISD moved Project Unity into a portable building alongside the adult learning center.  There continued its mission; to improve and enhance access to family support services; increase the efficiency and effectiveness of community-based family support services; enable children and youth to safely remain in their own homes; and to increase collaboration among and between local community-based programs, state and federal agencies, and children, youth and families. Project Unity also continued providing food for families on a weekly basis.

In 2000 Project Unity became an independent 501c3 non- profit organization with its legal name Unity Partners, continuing the intensive parenting support for families at risk for child abuse/neglect that is now known as our HOPES Program. It was also this year that The City of Bryan Community Development office awarded Project Unity the “Beck Street House” located at 1400 Beck Street near downtown. The Family Center made the move from Palasota and has been housed at Beck street since. 

 

Project Unity provided support to Hurricane Katrina Refugees in 2005. By competitively securing National Emergency Grant funding, as well as United Way of America funding, they were able to provide case management and subsidized employment for 11 Hurricane Katrina Evacuees who were temporarily or permanently relocated to the Brazos Valley region. The Special Health Services program within Project Unity started in 2006 and serves individuals who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS by providing medical care and housing. From 2008 to 2016, Project Unity’s Safe Harbor Supervised Visitation program offered a child-friendly environment for children to visit with the non-custodial parent when high family conflict resulted in court-ordered supervised visits.

 

In 2018 Project Unity started the Poverty Reduction Initiative-Family Self Sufficiency and Supports Program (FSS) Pilot that worked to provide parenting support via Parenting Wisely Curriculum, Parenting Cafe’s and Comprehensive Case Management Services for families living in poverty. This Program remained until 2023 when the Family and Youth Success (FAYS) program began.

 

2019 launched our Fresh Start 4 VETS, a program that provides case management and employment services for homeless veterans to reintegrate them into the workforce as well as the Job Training and Employment Program (JTEP), providing job training for low- income parents with children. The Trellis foundation has joined forces with Project Unity to help support the JTEP Program and meet the educational needs of those in our community. Though JTEP was formally formed in 2019, Project Unity has been securing and providing funds for clients to attend Blinn Jr. College and/or Texas A&M University to reach their employment and educational goals since 2004.

 

Right as these programs started, the world changed drastically due to the COVID Pandemic. During this time, the need in our community continued to increase drastically. Many didn’t qualify for unemployment, their governmental benefits decreased, medical fragility increased and food insecurity was at an all time high. Project Unity was able to secure an additional $350,000 to meet these changing needs of our clients while transitioning to virtual case management and direct services. Though the world was drastically different and changing, the mission of Project Unity remained the same and continued its work full steam ahead with 6 programs: HOPES, Special Health Services, FSS, Fresh Start 4 Vets, Trellis, JTEP & The Family Resource Center. See our COVID newsletter for more details on how Project Unity made an impact during this time!(HYPERLINK) (it will be linked in the final document/on the website)

 

In March of 2023, Project Unity partnered with Texas A&M Health Sciences Center and  Episcopal Health Foundation and became a Texas Accountable Communities for Health Initiative that launched the Brazos Healthy Communities (BHC) Program. BHC is committed to improving outcomes around patient care and reducing health disparities amongst pregnant women in their second pregnancy and beyond .By utilizing a tool called Pathways, a Community Health Worker is able to identify and track individually modifiable risk factors, working towards eliminating those risks one by one.

 

Most recently in September of 2023, Project Unity transitioned from the FSS program and transitioned to the Family & Youth Success Program. FAYS works to promote healthy outcomes and the strengthening of support systems for children and families by providing supportive counseling, parenting skills training, youth coping skills training, crisis intervention, basic needs assistance, advocacy and mentorship across 10 counties.

 

All of these programs throughout Project Unity’s history have been composed of comprehensive case management and direct services to empower and strengthen our community by caring for its people, supporting and educating its families, and fostering hope and change in the lives of all involved. Comprehensive Case Management for the families and individuals served includes coordinating services for them across: health, housing, employment, education, and basic needs and Direct Services include: parent education classes and home visits, developmental screenings, group meetings, job training, and basic needs assistance for food, rent, utilities, work clothes, transportation, and gas cards.

 

 

AWARDS:

  • 1996:  Project Unity was selected one of six national winners of the 1996-97 “Award for Excellence in Community Collaboration for Children and Youth Programs.”

  • 1997: Project Unity was one of six model programs in the national publication: Partnerships At Work: Lessons Learned From Programs and Practices of Families, Professionals and  Communities, funded through Title V, Social Security Act Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

  • 2000:  Project Unity became a 501c3 non- profit organization with its legal name: Unity Partners.  The City of Bryan Community Development awarded Project Unity the “Beck Street House” located at 1400 Beck Street near downtown Bryan for $1.00 per year. 

  • 2000-2004: Project Unity was awarded one of 11 “TANF Local Innovation Projects” across Texas by Texas Department of Human Services and was evaluated by the University of Texas School of Social Work as having significant statistical increase in moving persons from welfare toward self-sufficiency.

  • 2001: Project Unity was awarded the Daily Point of Light award by former President George Bush at his library in College Station. 

 

General Organizational Goals:

  • To ensure a strong start for children and pave the way for them to reach their full potential

  • To reduce poverty by focusing on six complex factors:

    • Chronic Unemployment\Underemployment

    • Personal Debt

    • Educational Failure

    • Addiction

    • Trauma

    • Breakdown of Family

  • To teach skills to help parents and youth handle stress, manage emotions, and tackle everyday challenges

  • To strengthen economic supports for families 

  • To reintegrate homeless veterans into the workforce with job training, on the job training, & case management support services

  • To unite people affected by HIV/AIDS and to empower them and their families to lead dignified and productive lives

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