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.