The Urban Enrichment Institute - UEI (formerly the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program Incorporated -FWEP) is a youth leadership and development program for at-risk males, ages 12 - 19, strategically located in one of Houston's most economically depressed neighborhoods, so that we can directly serve the community in need.
UEI’s core program ‘The School-Based Projects’ truly defines the holistic approach to youth development that UEI embraces. This project is housed in five schools in the Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) Northeast District and provides site- coordinators who monitor school activities, interact with teachers and administrators, and coordinate daily, after-school activities. The site-coordinators are responsible for the delivery of the life skills curriculum, home visits, and individual/group counseling sessions. The site coordinator is recognized by the school's youth as their mentor "on campus".
UEI is designed to empower boys to become responsible men and productive members of their families and community.
The Fifth Ward is one of Houston’s more economically distressed neighborhoods and is greatly affected by the urban problems of gang violence, drug abuse, high teen pregnancy rates, school dropout and crime. The Urban Enrichment Institute - UEI (formerly the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program Incorporated -FWEP) attempts to help participants redirect their energies into positive goals for the future rather than falling into the destructive path taken by many youth. They are taught to value education, delay gratification, view life as sacred and set responsible priorities. Males acquire social and leadership skills through male role models, mentoring techniques, academic support and therapeutic activities. In addition, they learn the importance of respect and communication in their relationships with others, specifically women.
Community leaders Joe Briggs, Rudy Wagner; now deceased and Ernest McMillan, a.k.a. “Mr. Mac”, founded Houston's Urban Enrichment Institute - UEI (formerly the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program Incorporated -FWEP) in 1984. It was established in response to the community’s skyrocketing rates of teenage pregnancy, crime, students failing to complete high school, drug use and a lack of responsible African-American fathers.
Initially located in E.O. Smith Middle School, UEI expanded in 1988 and now offers programming in five Fifth Ward Community schools. With its central office located at the Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, the program regularly serves approximately 250 African American and Latino boys between the ages of 12-19. “In the beginning it wasn’t about creating a comprehensive youth development or empowerment agency, we just wanted to create a place where young boys could come to get positive, routine interaction with men,’ explained Mr. Mac. Today UEI provides Fifth Ward residents with support services including: family and child support; agency referrals; educational workshops; teacher and school staff support; academic tutorial services; peer leadership development; recreational activities; and community service projects while promoting self discipline, personal accountability, and self esteem.