Legacy 2015 South Florida: Top Black Educators Issue - Page 8

8BB AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE SUN SENTINEL FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015 THE BAUGHTOM LINE Building More Community Partnerships to Strengthen Our Schools By Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., President and CEO, Urban League of Broward County How do we strengthen our public schools? Here’s one solution: find new and innovative ways to increase student and family involvement in the education system. I believe that can happen if more community organizations and traditional schools work together in By Zach Rinkins Broward County Public Schools Supplier Diversity & Outreach Program (SDOP) From left to right: Jusmara Prince, Lavinia Freeman, Ruby Crenshaw, Director, Procurement & Warehousing Services Department, and Colleen Robbs Armed with a mission to provide responsive and efficient procurement services to the School Board of Broward County (SBBC), the Supplier Diversity and Outreach Department (SDOP) aims to help women-and minority-owned business tap into the board’s multi-billion dollar business opportunities. “SBBC saw an urgency and need to reinvent this department to make sure that we have a diverse group of minority- and women-owned businesses able to compete for awards with good and services leveraging resources to boost academics and enhance critical thinking skills of our youth. By creating more partnerships, we can make a huge impact in our schools as well as in our community, since education gives people the skills and tools to find good jobs and sustain viable economic growth. Consider the work my organization, Urban League of Broward County, is doing to prepare children for school, college and the workforce. Our School is Cool program addresses the ABC’s (attendance, behavior and coursework performance) for struggling middle school youth. The program offers life skills, academic remediation, course correction, parent engagement, and enrichment activities with the intent of getting the students back on track for graduation. Also, our Asset Building Leads to Excellence (ABLE) program increases positive decision making in middle school students in an effort to reduce risk factors associated with substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and school failure. And our Crime Prevention and Intervention program deters at-risk youth from engaging in criminal behavior, focusing on anger management, behavior modification and employability skills. and Caucasian Females. providers including the Urban League. We can’t point to our school principals and teachers as being solely responsible for preparing our youth for the future. It’s up to our entire community to get involved. It’s a proven fact that children do better in school when their parents or caregivers are involved in their education. The Council carries enormous benefits for our children -- without it, summer education programs, early learning and literacy services, and after-school and weekend activities will go unfunded. These programs are a huge value in our community. They support learning and higher academic achievement. Families have to take part. It’s no longer enough to attend the occasional PTA meetings or scan take-home flyers. Parents have to know what’s going on daily in the classroom and they have to be engaged in their children’s homework assignments. This isn’t easy. Many of our parents are working one, two or even three jobs. They are exhausted and don’t always have the time and energy to be fully involved in their children’s education. That’s where partnerships between community organizations and traditional school systems come into play. In Broward County, our Children Service’s Council funds education and health programs delivered by a network of 100 of the following groups: African-American, American Indian, Asian-American, Asian-Indian American, Hispanic American, Broward County Schools Are Open purchased by the school board,” Ruby Crenshaw, director of Procurement and Warehousing Services, Broward County Public Schools noted. “We also make sure that constructions companies are pre-qualified to do business with the school board and qualified as minority, women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE).” The revamped department increased from a solo-person operation and now houses more staff with expanded support and outreach services. “We have monthly lunch and learn opportunities and we frequently participate in various fairs and trade shows. We also have our vendors work with our smaller companies to create possible opportunities,” she added. “We also have one-on-one opportunities where business owners can meet with us for support and counsel.” The Florida Memorial University graduate offer this recipe for contracting success. “It is important for businesses to have an interest in working with SBBC, get registered as a vendor, get qualified as an M/WBE, network and follow-up with the person you meet in procurement,” she recommended. “They should also register with DemandStar.com because all of our opportunities are listed there.” Said Crenshaw: “It’s also important for potential vendor to provide everything we ask for on the application. “We need to have a larger and more robust list of vendors. Knowing who these vendors are allows us to have a resource for vendors seeking subcontractors. A lot of our small business cannot manage larger project by themselves. However, there are many opportunities to subcontract,” Crenshaw pointed out. “We want vendors to be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities including the recent $800 million bond issue.” What is an M/WBE? Any legal entity which is organized to engage in commercial transactions and is at least 51-percent owned, managed, and controlled by minority persons or women Industry Goods and Business Services Professional Services Construction Manufacturers/Wholesalers/ Retailers We need more community programs to keep ch