Broward Schools Supplier Diversity Outreach Program, new policy unveiling
Small business vendors eager to work with Broward
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Recently Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) offered a free business outreach event to present the “new” Supplier Diversity Outreach Program to a full house at the Urban League of Broward County.
“As far as the minority business community is concerned, we see today’s Supplier Diversity Outreach event as a wedding. The Superintendent, with full support of his Board, said “I do” in promising to include minority businesses in the District’s procurement activities. After years of discriminating against minority firms, Broward County Public Schools is now vowing:
“To have and to hold minority firms as vendors making money by doing business with the District
“For richer or poorer – making a commitment to substantial minority participation through the substantial $800 million bond, and to continue long after the bond money is spent
“Through sickness and health – the District must be committed to doing business with healthy firms capable and ready to do substantial business now; and it must also commit to helping new and smaller businesses grow to be able to take advantage of the opportunities as well
“Until Death Do Us Part – Broward Public Schools must vow to doing business with us until the District no longer needs to get its public money from our private pay checks.
In return, minority firms have said “I do” in taking the responsibility to get certified, seek assistance (if needed), and bid. When they win, minority businesses have vowed to give back to our schools and create jobs for students and parents in our communities.”
—- Statement by Brian C. Johnson, President/CEO of Minority Builders Coalition, Inc.
The Procurement and Warehousing Services Dept. gave an overview of the new Supplier Diversity Outreach Program Policy 3330 and a 2017 Procurement Opportunities Forecast for all businesses in the tri-county area interested in doing business with BCPS.
Detailed information was provided on how local businesses could take advantage of the opportunities to provide products and services to the District. Dozens of business owners were lining up to speak directly with various key BCPS staff about upcoming business opportunities.
Broward County Urban League (BCUL) was one of the organizations that was on the front lines of helping to create this new program. Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., president and CEO of BCUL , believes that their role will be to ensure the school board’s accountability to the community. “As the program is implemented, our responsibility is to hold the school board accountable to what they said that they were going to do. We will encourage our community to participate, provide the resources and the technical assistance as well as the support through our entrepreneurial center, the loan fund.
“We have to ensure that we keep the accountability of the school board to what the intent was.”
The Supplier Diversity Outreach Program builds capacity in the local business community by providing increased opportunities for underutilized business to do business with BCPS, generates growth among local businesses by providing increased preferences to Small/Minority/Women Business Enterprises (S/M/WBEs), and creates jobs and career opportunities for local residents.
BCSB Superintendent Robert Runcie has come a long way in his position. He has weathered some storms as well as achieves some accomplishments.
When questioned about his progress and about this achievements and how he rated them, Runcie smiled with a sense of success.
Runcie continued, “it’s the biggest accomplishments because this is legacy work. This is not something that happens in a moment in time and just goes away. It is my absolute expectation that what we’re doing here will change the culture of the District, it will actually fundamentally change the way we provide opportunities for minority small and women businesses.
“This is a structural change that has long been needed at the school board; however, in order for this program to work the entire community has to hold the school board accountable to what they put on paper”.
The adoption of the new Supplier Diversity Outreach Program followed a disparity study, completed in 2015, that identified barriers and various forms of marketplace discrimination that weakened the participation of minority and women-owned businesses. The new policy, approved on Jan. 18, 2017, takes effect on July 1, 2017.
For more information about the Supplier Diversity Outreach Program, call (754) 321-0505 or visit browardschools.com/sdop.