ABOUT GROWING TOGETHER

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 fundamental conditions of a neighborhood to benefit kids, making it a more attractive, mixed income neighborhood for families and businesses.

But we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Our job is to be the connection between businesses, non-profit organizations and other programs. Together, we can all improve our neighborhoods.

Learn more about the science and research of developing neighborhoods here. 

OUR MISSION

Eliminate inequalities that stand in the way for families in vulnerable neighborhoods to succeed. 

OUR METHOD

Working alongside community members in Tulsa to create the conditions that we all want for our own kids: great schools; quality, affordable housing; safe and amenity-rich public spaces, and are invested in the economic development and vibrancy of the community.

2011

  • The “Growing Together” collaborative was formed and the name created by neighborhood residents
  • Replaced Archer Park playground equipment and renovated pavilion
2011

2012

  • Remodeled Admiral Park: added new playground and converted tennis court to multi-use court and added pavilion
2012

2013

  • Launched partnerships with City Year, Reading Partners, Communities in Schools, CS, TDS
  • First phase of Capital Homes completed (10 homes)
  • West Park, Tulsa’s first mixed-income apartment community, completed 128 units
  • Kendall-Whittier park remodel completed
2013

2014

  • Growing Together became its own, independent entity solely focused on comprehensive neighborhood revitalization
2014

2015

  • Created a longitudinal data system to track student progress both in school and connected to Extended Learning Time activities
2015

2016

  • Recruited focused partnership of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity
2016

2017

  • Assisted obtaining a $7m commitment from Zarrow foundation for affordable housing to expand the capacity of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity
2017

2018

  • Launched Coffee with Parents
2018

2020

  • Partnered with the Tulsa Immigrant Relief Fund (TIRF) to support families that experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Partnered with Elote to create Food for Families to provide weekly meal kits to families in need during COVID-19.
  • Launched the Mi Gente Loan Fund. This fund is is for Latinx small business owners and independent contractors who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Mi Gente offers funds up to $15,000 with 0% interest and no collateral required.
2020

2021

  • Celebrated our 10th Anniversary
  • Continued COVID-19 support through the TIRF, Mi Gente Loan Fund, the RESET Grant and Food for Families
  • Launched the Community Leadership Institute
2021
LEADERSHIP

Dedicated to fostering
thriving communities.

Kirk Wester-Rivera

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Before becoming an executive director, Kirk Wester-Rivera studied social work and psychology
and became a Clinical Director at Human Skills & Resources. He is a licensed
psychotherapist and addictions counselor. During his previous career, Kirk learned to
understand the obstacles that individuals face and how to help them navigate toward
good health. As Founder of Growing Together, Kirk was ready for the challenge of
drawing experiences of living in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood for several years. He
loves that Growing Together is centered around people and is an avenue for a drive to
change communities.

Kaitlin Williams Garrett

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Kaitlin joined Growing Together after working at Zarrow International School for six years. During her time at Zarrow, she gained prospective to what students, schools and families deserve and what can happen in school and communities when it is a place where children can thrive. Kaitlin’s skills lie in organization, planning, coordination and project management. Now, she uses her skills to help children get access to the educational and life experiences they deserve.

Eva Peña

Special Projects Manager

Eva holds several master’s degrees ranging from energy and fuel engineering to environmental engineering. Originally from Spain, Eva has worked in several countries, including a career as an e-reporter where she had the opportunity to travel and write. She has also helped design toothpaste tubes and has worked as a consultant for Accenture in Madrid. Now Growing Together utilizes her strengths in flexibility, organization and project management skills to help move the needle. This is her first job working in the non-profit sector and loves being an ambassador for the organization.

Gretchen Mudoga

Director of Neighborhood Development

Gretchen has served the City of Tulsa in many different capacities. Before working for Growing Together, Gretchen worked for the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Police Department, the Department of Human Services, and most recently, the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa as the Housing Operations Director. Gretchen has a passion to serve the underserved and marginalized communities and she understands their struggles. She is an advocate for those who feel that they do not have a voice and wants to give back to the City that gave her a home and opportunity to serve in various capacities.

Onelia Macchia Anzola

Managing Director Avanzando Juntos

Onelia comes to Growing Together with a deep passion for families and children living in Kendall-Whittier. Before working for our team, Oneila worked as a Director of Family Service at Tulsa Educare. She also served as a Communities In Schools of Mid-America Lead Site Coordinator at Kendall Whittier and Sequoyah Elementary school. Each day Onelia works at being a trusted advocate among families in our Latinx and Hispanic community. She has a desire to create a lasting change at a deeper scale and sees her role at Growing Together playing a huge role in creating this change.  

cfqAnahi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in SpeechLanguage Pathology from the University of Tulsa. Being connected to the KendallWhittier neighborhood, she is ready to utilize her efficiency and listening skills to help solve problems and overcome obstacles to support students and families at Sequoyah Elementary School. Anahi feels she has a passiontofurther people’s future and help those that need it the most, and that’s why she is so excitedto behelping studentsthrough the CIS program at Growing Together. She aspires for to help her students reach their goals and impact the next generation. Anahi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in SpeechLanguage Pathology from the University of Tulsa. Being connected to the KendallWhittier neighborhood, she is ready to utilize her efficiency and listening skills to help solve problems and overcome obstacles to support students and families at Sequoyah Elementary School. Anahi feels she has a passiontofurther people’s future and help those that need it the most, and that’s why she is so excitedto behelping studentsthrough the CIS program at Growing Together. She aspires for to help her students reach their goals and impact the next generation. ewf

Michelle Lara

Community Leadership Program Manager

Michelle Lara joins the Growing Together team from Leadership Tulsa, where she worked as a Program Manager for programs like the Hispanic Leadership Institute. Her experience in non-profit management has helped develop her communication skills and her passion for helping her community. She is currently pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership from Southern Nazarene University and is a proud graduate of Tulsa Public Schools. Michelle looks forward to furthering her connection with her neighbors in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, empowering people with leadership skills and opportunities, and advocating for her community members. 

Jessica Noonan, Ph.D

Director of Education Partnerships

Before joining the Growing Together team, Jessica was a teacher at Kendall-Whittier Elementary school for eight years. During that time, she was awarded teacher of the year and became a National Board-Certified reading specialist. Since her time at Kendall-Whiter Elementary, Jessica has worked as an instructional coach with Tulsa Public Schools and a graduate research and teaching assistant at Oklahoma State University. With her experience at the school site level, district level, and in higher education, she has an in-depth understanding of how these various systems interact within the local context. With this understanding, Jessica plans to make a difference in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood by helping to break down barriers between schools and the families they serve.

Mharyale State

Administrative Coordinator

Mharyale holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the Universidad de Cartagena located in Colombia. She has a strong passion for community development and is actively involved in The Heights, a historic neighborhood in Tulsa. Mharyale is extremely attentive to detail and helps us all remained organized. Before working for Growing Together, Mharyale worked at Victory College as an assistant to the registrar department and did an internship at the Unidad de Victimas (Victims Unit) in Cartagena, Colombia. In her past work experience, Mharyale developed the skills to assist in the decision-making process, understand financial systems and keep data well organized. She’s excited to bring her skillset to the Growing Together team!
 

cfqAnahi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in SpeechLanguage Pathology from the University of Tulsa. Being connected to the KendallWhittier neighborhood, she is ready to utilize her efficiency and listening skills to help solve problems and overcome obstacles to support students and families at Sequoyah Elementary School. Anahi feels she has a passiontofurther people’s future and help those that need it the most, and that’s why she is so excitedto behelping studentsthrough the CIS program at Growing Together. She aspires for to help her students reach their goals and impact the next generation. Anahi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in SpeechLanguage Pathology from the University of Tulsa. Being connected to the KendallWhittier neighborhood, she is ready to utilize her efficiency and listening skills to help solve problems and overcome obstacles to support students and families at Sequoyah Elementary School. Anahi feels she has a passiontofurther people’s future and help those that need it the most, and that’s why she is so excitedto behelping studentsthrough the CIS program at Growing Together. She aspires for to help her students reach their goals and impact the next generation. ewf

Bree Decker

CIS PROGRAM MANAGER

Bree works as the CIS Program Manager, overseeing the CIS Program and ensuring site coordinators have what they need to help students succeed. Bree previously worked as the site coordinator at Eugene Field Elementary School, where she helped equip students with resources they needed to feel empowered to achieve their goals. With an interest in helping others, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Lit with an emphasis in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Advocating for her students and creating a positive impact are two things she feels passionate about.

Alex Rosales

CIS Site Coordinator - Sequoyah Elementary

Prior to joining Growing Together, Alex worked for a mental and behavioral health non-profit organization where he helped youth with their behavior management skills. With a passion for helping others, he obtained an Associate’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Oklahoma State College and is currently in the process of finishing his Bachelor’s degree. Growing Together’s mission of aiding students in an effort for them to be successful in school brought Alex to our organization. He is excited to collaborate with Sequoyah Elementary School and the community to help improve the wellbeing of his students.

Clarinda Earl

CIS Site Coordinator - Webster Middle School

Clarinda holds her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Langston University and master’s degree in management from Southern Nazarene University. After growing up in Tulsa, Clarinda is passionate about making a difference in her community by being visible and present for her neighbors. Before joining our team, she worked as a special education teacher, where she developed her strengths in adaptability, empathy, communication and time management. Her time working in schools has prepared her to help the students and families at Webster Middle School, and she is excited to help them grow and succeed.

Monique Darden

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - Webster High School

After graduating with a master’s degree in professional counseling from Oral Roberts University, Monique first began working with kids as a behavioral interventionist for children with autism.  In this role, she learned how to hold space for the children she was serving and developed her passion for helping kids. Monique looks forward to bringing her skills in empathy and encouragement to her new role as a site coordinator at Webster High School, where she will work to plant the seeds of positivity and motivation to help the students succeed in school.

Norma Gonzalez Lopez

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - KENDALL-WHITTIER Elementary

For the last four years, Norma was an AmeriCorps member and served as a parent educator as well as a Literacy Lead with Reading Partners. During these positions, she realized that several Tulsa families in need do not know how to get help or support. This is what brought Norma to Communities in Schools. With a heart full of respect, empathy and compassion, Norma can work to connect students with resources to help improve their lives and stay motivated. She studied business administration in Chihuahua, Mexico, prior to joining AmeriCorps.

Susan Mulvaney

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - Will rogers high school

Previously working as a DHS social worker and then as a pre-school teacher, Susan has always had a passion for helping children. Now, she is a site coordinator at Rogers College High School. Susan believes that every child deserves to be accepted and given encouragement to achieve success. Each day she works to provide students with resources to help their families while reminding students to focus on graduation, providing encouraging along the way. Susan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology of Organization and Administration with a business minor from the Oklahoma State University.

Harriet Williams

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - Will rogers Junior high school

Harriet has always had a passion for serving others, leading her to pursue a degree in Social Work from Northeastern State University. Prior to joining the Growing Together team, she worked for the State of Oklahoma in the Adult Protective Services department. In that role, she learned how to work with a variety of people with different backgrounds, which allows her to really understand the needs of others. Harriet is proud to work for Growing Together because she knows our organization promotes the growth and learning of all students. She is excited to continue engaging with her community at Will Rogers Junior High School, where she hopes to lead by example for her students. 

Tanya Ramirez

CIS Site Coordinator – Eugene Field Elementary

Prior to joining Growing Together, Tanya attended California Polytechnic State University, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in city and regional planning with an emphasis in public health and sustainable environments. Her time at university shaped her understanding of the impact a person’s environment has on them, and she was inspired to return to school at the University of Southern California, where she took courses on early childhood education and English as a second language. Tanya is passionate about the CIS Site Coordinator role because she wishes she had access to something similar when she was growing up. She is excited to utilize her empathy and relationship skills to build meaningful connections with her students so she can better advocate for them.  

Diana Rodriguez Vazquez

Family Support Specialist - Kendall-whittier elementary

Diana holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tulsa with a major in psychology and a double minor in sociology and education. Diana grew up in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and is excited to be working in a community that she knows and loves. She believes that education is the best way to progress through life. Diana is able to use her personal experience as someone who was raised by immigrants and a first-generation college graduate to inform others about how they can navigate the education system and have success in school and their own life. 

Destinee Cherry

Family support specialist - sequoyah elementary

Before working for Growing Together, Destinee worked in a variety of education fields, first as a high school science teacher and middle school girls’ basketball and volleyball coach, then as a site coordinator at a local community-based educational partner for their elementary after-school program and more recently worked at as elementary school as a guidance counselor. Destinee is currently working on her EdD in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Teaching. She is eager to serve students and families through a community perspective and to be able to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable students in her school.

BOARD MEMBERS

Bill Fournet

CHAIR

“I started working with Growing Together in 2016 and saw the impact they were making in the Kendall Whittier neighborhood and school. They affect lives everyday and their success in creating diverse, sustainable partnerships towards real outcomes for our community excites me to help serve them in any way!”

Matt Newman

VICE CHAIR

“Throughout my career in both real estate and social services, I have seen the direct positive impact a neighborhood can create for individuals and families. By serving on the board of Growing Together, I can now be part of a concentrated effort and play more of a direct role in the revitalization and sustainability of neighborhoods all across Tulsa.”

Brian Humphrey

TREASURER

“What motivates me to serve on Growing Together’s Board is the opportunity to empower a community to build a better future. Growing Together focuses on removing barriers for individuals and encourages leaders to address social and economic issues by focusing on rebuilding neighborhoods. Participating on this board offers me the ability to help strengthen the future of your city and state.”

Katia Anaya

MEMBER

“Growing Together plays an important role in the development of an inclusive neighborhood that offers opportunities for the children of our city to grow and thrive. I am excited to serve on the board and give back in this way to Kendall-Whittier, a community that welcomed my family’s business into the neighborhood.”

Luisa Krug

MEMBER

It is so important to comprehensively address neighborhoods in Tulsa so that we can see the best outcomes for children and families. I’m excited to learn more about Kendall-Whittier and the neighbors so that I can better understand the challenges and opportunities of this neighborhood.” 

Francisco Ibarra

MEMBER

“I arrived to Tulsa 11 years ago with Supermercados Morelos, and since then, I have seen this city grow, as well as its needs. I am always looking for opportunities to collaborate and give back a part of the much we have received. Now the opportunity is given as a member of the GT BOD and my experience can be used to achieve a common target:  to provide a well deserved education for our kids and take care of the families. If we have a good education and a sense of family, we will have a better city.”

Studies

Neighborhood News