• Latonia Jones

It Is Time For A Change

As we approach the end of this year and begin to embark upon the next, I would like to dedicate this blog to the change agents of the Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) community. The one agency that comes to mind as a change agent for the MSI community is NASA. NASA has implemented programs that will increase the exposure and revenue of these institutions.

Our client was the recipient of what I believe can be a game changing initiative by NASA’s Office of Education which has now been renamed as the Office of STEM Engagement. The initiative is entitled the MUREP for Sustainability and Innovation Collaborative (MUSIC).

Our client Alabama A&M RISE Foundation, who is also a change agent, has begun working towards increasing MSIs’ awareness of government contracts by providing education through workshops, webinars and annual events. Why is this important? It is important because these universities need to understand how to operate in an unfamiliar environment. These opportunities can bring their institutions great rewards.

The first step, and I believe the most critical step, in this change is a mindset change in both entities: the prime contractors and the universities. Prime contractors that receive awards from NASA need to understand that the goal that is imposed on them in their solicitations and contracts is not to be taken lightly. Rather, it is imposed on them to assist NASA with achieving the agency goal of ensuring MSIs remain a viable and sustainable benefit to the communities in which they serve.

Universities need to understand that in order to increase revenue into their institutions something different needs to be done; they need to take a page out of the Predominately White Institutions’ (PWIs) handbook, such as Georgia Tech Research Institute, and go after funding that typically is not awarded through the usual mechanism, which are grants.

I believe the time for MSIs to rise to another level in revenue is now while under this current administration. The Presidential Executive Order 13779 on the White House Initiative is to promote excellence and innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The next year will bring its own mix of challenges; however, in order to capitalize on this order and the initiatives that NASA has implemented, the time is right now.

Here are a few suggestions on increasing your chances of being part of these game changing initiatives:

1) Become familiar with the rules and regulations of the government contracting community, by aligning yourself with individuals who are familiar with the process.

2) Understand that we are not moving away from grants but expanding our education on getting access to money to contracts.

3) Learn how to navigate through the process by attending training (webinars, workshops etc.)

4) Recognize the process will take some time but be patient in order to reap the rewards.

We invite you to join in this time of change by following us on www.we-are-pmp.com and www.theknowledgesharingcenter.com . Sign up for the webinars, attend conferences and if you can think of ways to collaborate and promote change send us an e-mail.

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