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

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

OUR VISION

Our neighborhoods are vibrant environments for children to live, learn and thrive. Families reside in high-quality, affordable housing. Children attend high-performing neighborhood schools. And, residents are invested in creating a thriving 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
LEADERSHIP

Dedicated to fostering
thriving communities.

Kirk Wester

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Before becoming an executive director, Kirk Wester 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

Business Development & Administration 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.

Franchell Abdalla

Director of Community Development

Franchell comes to Growing Together with over 17 years’ experience in fundraising and development. Through her career in fundraising and development, Franchell has strong skills in driving strategic growth, diversifying funding portfolios, building sustainable partnerships, grant writing and strategic visioning and planning. She is helping Growing Together develop and maintain collaborative relationships with donors and organizations and build an infrastructure that supports the strategic vision of the organization.

Judith Barba

Community Leadership & Mobilization Manager

Judith joins Growing Together with years of experience in diversity and nonprofit work. During her previous career, she had the opportunity to see the diversity this country has and strategically figure out how we can work together to improve the quality of life for each individual. Judith skills are in developing strong teamwork, problem-solving and a variety of communication skills. She lives in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and is passionate about improving the lives of those in her community. In her role at Growing Together Judith can use her passions to help those who live in her city and are in need.

Jessica Noonan

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.

Anahi Messer

CIS Site Coordinator - Sequoyah Elementary

Anahi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Tulsa. Being connected to the Kendall-Whittier 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 passion to further people’s future and help those that need it the most, and that’s why she is so excited to be helping students through the CIS program at Growing Together. She aspires for to help her students reach their goals and impact the next generation.

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 SITE COORDINATOR - Eugene FIELD

Wanting to work directly with students in need, Bree works as a site coordinator at Eugene Field Elementary School where she helps equip students with resources they need to feel empowered and 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. To connect with her students, you can find Bree walking around the Eugene Field neighborhood and interacting with students and their families. Advocating for her students and creating a positive impact are two things she feels passionate about.

Corey Rowland

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - Webster middle school and High School

While previously working as a Creek County First Time Offender Coordinator, Corey saw first-hand systematic oppression that people of color receive in the judicial system. Noticing the direct correlation between school to the prison pipeline, he knew he wanted to work in educational reform helping students find the means to become successful. Corey studied at Langston University as well as the University of Phoenix where he received his MPA. Now, he works to show young adults that he cares about their wellbeing while holding them accountable to their actions.

Norma Gonzalez

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.

Vanessa Villanueva

CIS SITE COORDINATOR - Will rogers middle school

Previously working with diverse populations in workforce development, recruitment and grant management, Vanessa has a passion for re-entry services and helping people achieve success.  She has a diverse educational background from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a BA in Criminal Justice, BS in Psychology, M.Ed in Social Services with a Criminal Justice emphasis. As an active listener, she works hard to empower, motivate and build relationships with her clients. Vanessa works to make a difference by planting seeds of hope that one day will lead to positive changes in individuals, families and communities.

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.”

Mark Cruz

SECRETARY

“I truly want to impact the lives of this community. I want to be a part of helping mold the lives of the next generation. This is the ‘why’ for me.”

Mollie Craft

MEMBER

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.”

Bob Schaefer

MEMBER

“I live and work in Kendall-Whittier and want my neighborhood to be the best. The work of Growing Together will help accomplish that,and my involvement on the board seemed to be a natural extension of those desires.”

Devin Fletcher

MEMBER

“The mission of Growing Together is to create pathways for children to break the cycle of poverty through education, community vibrancy, and the built environment. I am proof that providing access to rigorous, high-quality educational opportunities can shift a child’s pre-determined trajectory and minimize the corrosive effects of systemic poverty on families, communities, and society as a whole. I am committed to leveraging my seat on the board to drive institutional and systemic change to increase equity, access, and opportunity for all. I serve because I understand the power of the opportunity from a deep and personal perspective.”

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.” 

Talmadge Powell

MEMBER

James Wagner

MEMBER

“I love neighborhoods. When I first moved back to Tulsa, I noticed there was not a neighborhood association where I lived. I worked with neighbors to start one that still thrives today. I believe that the ideal human experience is achieved when interdependent communities thrive. The City of Tulsa has the potential to achieve great gains by creating and replicating a model of strong neighborhood identity and cohesion. Growing Together represents a comprehensive model of neighborhood organization and leadership.”

Studies

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