A Letter From Kirk Wester-Rivera

For the past 25 years, my family and I have invested ourselves in the amazing and beautiful work of building community alongside our friends and neighbors – the last 13 of which have been in my dream job as Executive Director of Growing Together. During that time, I have had the immense pleasure and privilege of seeing our community come together and work diligently toward a more vibrant future for our kids. One that is no different than what I think everyone wants for their children – great neighborhood schools, quality housing that is affordable, and a place that represents who we are in its retail and cultural spaces.

When given the opportunity to lead this effort in 2010 after over a decade of working to better our community, I was nervous, excited and absolutely humbled at the prospect of taking what I had heard from hours and hours of conversations with our friends and neighbors and implement a vision for a truly thriving community that included everyone in its growth.

A lot has happened over the last 13 years and it’s amazing to see how much the city has benefited from the work that Growing Together either began or dramatically advanced.

  • Recruiting and founding Tulsa operations of major national education support organizations like Communities In Schools, City Year and Reading Partners

  • Assisting in the dramatic transformation of Habitat for Humanity as one of the premier affordable housing developers in this city

  • Demonstrating what could be done in our community by supporting the development of Tulsa’s first mixed-income housing development

  • Being Tulsa’s first collective impact organization

And finally – being the first neighborhood trust in Oklahoma. As a result, we, alongside our most vulnerable community members, have created Tulsa’s only inclusively grown neighborhood.

While all of these outcomes are certainly worthy of note, I have to say the outcome I am most proud of is how we constantly prioritized our community members in our work from who we brought on our team to who we contract and do business with – always thinking about the tremendous privilege we have and how we leverage that privilege to benefit our neighbors and community members whenever possible. In addition, we leveraged the spaces that we were invited to bring along the voice of others, particularly those from our Latino community, to be at the decision-making tables. We have seen, first-hand, the tremendous hard work of our community members as they endeavor to ensure that they begin to realize their value, potential and expertise through their lived experiences.

Now, the time has come to transition. Over the past year, my wife and I have wrestled with the difficult decision of how to best support our daughter in her athletic pursuits as she works toward competing for the Puerto Rico National Team in climbing and mountain biking. After a year of helping her work towards her goals, we have made the decision to move to Colorado to continue to provide her the resources to be successful. In a way, the Growing Together mission mirrors mine for my children and I feel we are taking a piece of our organization and Tulsa with us.

This has truly been the most heart-wrenching decision of our lives as we have poured everything we are into our beloved neighborhood of Kendall-Whittier and, more importantly, this community has poured even more back into our lives. I am a better person as a result and I cannot describe the feelings I am experiencing as we choose to move forward. I have been working closely with the Growing Together Board and team on a path to transition. For now, the Board will be conducting a search for the next Executive Director as we plan for a six month or so transition. I welcome your thoughts, well-wishes and offers to connect.

For now, know that Growing Together is poised for a truly greater impact in the coming years than ever before as we expand our efforts to preserve and protect affordable housing; grow the number of schools and neighborhoods that we will have an impact in as we set our sights on coming alongside the Springdale and East Tulsa communities; grow our sister organization, Avanzando Juntos, to advance an ecosystem supporting Latino success and access to capital; and develop organic community leaders to ensure and demand representation and a seat at the decision-making tables across our community and city. The future is really bright for our kids and their families and we work together with our generous philanthropic and programmatic partners (with whom none of this would have been possible) to create amazing, thriving communities for all children.

This is not a goodbye, but merely a see you later as Tulsa, and, especially, Kendall-Whittier is not just part of where I’ve lived, but who I am. The gift of love, community and belonging I and my family have been given from our community is without words and has forever changed us for the better.

Juntos Podemos,

Kirk Wester-Rivera


Creating healthy neighborhoods for children.

We are creating pathways for children to break the cycle of poverty through education, community vibrancy and the built environment.


Partnering with Tulsa’s best
affordable builders.


Working with local schools to
expand resources.


Supporting community members, organizations and funders to help kids succeed.

Neighborhoods matter.
Research proves it.

Growing Together is known as a community quarterback. That means we guide and support community members, organizations and funders to create vibrant communities for children. To be a successful neighborhood, children must have the right conditions to live, learn and thrive. We work to change the fundamentals of a neighborhood to benefit kids, making it a more attractive, mixed income neighborhood for families and businesses.