Organization Profiles

The Solid Gold Neighbor Research Fellow Program is accepting applications from graduate students for the following projects for academic year 2021-2022:

Masters Projects

Esther’s Closet

Esther's ClosetEsther’s Closet is a self-sufficiency, workforce development program for women. E.C. prepares women for employment advancement opportunities with skills training, career development and professional attire. Esther’s Closet is more than a program that assists women who are transitioning back into the labor force.

Women from various races and backgrounds come in with one thing in common…fear of not having what they need to survive. While a separate 501c3, it is under the umbrella and direct management of the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce.

The research interest area for this project includes studying participant engagement, progress, and outcomes through the program as well as looking into post-support employment retention and growth including its impact on family financial progress.

Graduate Level: Masters
Funding Amount: $5,000
Term: Fall 2021


First United Methodist Church of Waco

First Methodist WacoFirst Methodist Church of Waco has a rich 170-year history. Over the years, we’ve fostered close-knit relationships with the Waco community and surrounding areas. We’re always expanding our ministry and growing our congregation to impact those around us for the Kingdom. It is our heartfelt desire to make all people feel welcome here. At each of our campuses, we provide a variety of worship styles, including contemporary and traditional services throughout the weekend. We invite everyone to fellowship with us, learn more about the Gospel, and get involved in our church community!

This research project aims to understand the spectrum of existing church and para-church ministries in Waco actively engaging in the work of financial security for underserved citizens by inventorying, mapping, analyzing, and proposing collaborations through a comprehensive report.

Graduate Level: Masters
Funding Amount: $5,000
Term: Fall 2021


Community Cancer Association
Community Cancer Association

Community Cancer Association (CCA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit in McLennan County, works with local cancer patients and their families to address some of the financial issues that occur as a result of their health condition.  We received our official 501(c)(3) designation in 1960.  CCA has been providing assistance to cancer patients in Central Texas for more than 50 years. 

CCA helps pay for outpatient cancer drugs, medicine for treatment effects, pain control and symptom management.  CCA also helps pay for prescription co-pays, necessary medical travel, wound care items, ostomy and mastectomy supplies, garments, wigs, nutritional supplements and more. All donations for CCA stay right here in Central Texas.

The research opportunity for this project encompasses assessing outreach effectiveness, understanding population needs, and program efficacy.

Graduate Level: Masters
Funding Amount: $5,000
Term: Fall 2021

Doctoral Projects

Talitha Koum Institute
Talitha Koum Institute

Entering its 18th year of service to the Waco community, Talitha Koum Institute (TKI) in Waco is an all-day M-F, mental health therapeutic nurture center that focuses on the brain development of high-risk, trauma-affected children from deep poverty. Incorporating the HighScope® cognitive curriculum and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT; Child Trauma Academy), TKI endeavors to attenuate and/or eliminate those neurological deficits that result in educational failures leading children as young as four to land on the documented “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Talitha Koum’s goal is to send children to Kindergarten able to self-regulate and ready to learn, improving educational outcomes and subsequent life opportunities in hopes of reducing the likelihood of generational poverty. The program includes a weekly Parenting Meeting and a Kindergarten-to-College Mentoring Program for our school-age children.

The aim of this research project is to develop an experimental or quasi-experimental study to assess efficacy and outcomes of the Talitha Koum program for participants who have experienced an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).

Graduate Level: Doctoral
Funding Amount: $10,000
Term: Fall 2021 through Spring 2022


The Cove
The Cove

The Cove is a nurturing drop-in center for high school youth who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness. Homeless and unaccompanied young people have often endured early childhood trauma, sexual and emotional abuse, and family violence. Apart from targeted and systemic support for young people experiencing homelessness, the probability of a bright future is very slim. The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness states that "stability is the key" to improving homeless students' graduation rates. While we know that homeless students' lives will be drastically improved when they are stably housed, many communities have developed a tiered approach to addressing youth homelessness, to include after-school drop-in centers as a first step.

Currently in our fourth year of operation, The Cove offers a safe environment for young people to access showers, mental healthcare, case management, a family-style dinner, healthy snacks, an optional workout program, washer/dryer, tutoring services, educational programming through community partners, and attendance recovery time.

The primary objective of this research project is to collect youth self-sufficiency outcomes date for post-graduation youth who utilized The Cove services with an opportunity to explore housing outcomes, post-secondary enrollment, and other trailing factors.

Graduate Level: Doctoral
Funding Amount: $10,000
Term: Fall 2021 through Spring 2022


Please note that the research projects will be finalized during the Summer of 2021 upon graduate student selection by partnering the organization and student to finalize the full research question and project scope.

Harris House
1315 S. 7th St.
Waco, TX 76706
One Bear Place #97101
Waco, TX 76798