Business & Finance

Follow the Money: School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon Proposes Item to Address the Receipt, Plan and Accountability for the District’s Nearly $1.1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021



At today’s Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will propose an agenda item regarding the almost $1.1 billion the school district receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress. It intends to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession, which developed as a consequence. First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle, and high schools to assist with safe reopening, with Florida slated to receive approximately $7.4 billion. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and having the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students, is estimated to receive $1.1 billion. The bill will also directly impact local students and families through individual relief measures, including child tax credits that are projected to reduce child poverty substantially. 

With the infusion of these funds, the District will enhance its capacity to mitigate and address the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its students and their learning for over a year, with studies anticipating that learning loss will be more significant among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students---a demographic highly concentrated in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and whose anticipated academic, social, and emotional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in large part and generated the unprecedented amount of federal funds.

Gallon’s proposal also directs the Superintendent to schedule a Board Workshop to discuss and review the allocation and allowable use of these funds, as well as,  review the prior allocation, expenditure, and planned use for remaining funds allocated to the District through the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020; and establish a system and structure for quarterly reporting of all funds expended through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and make available for easy public access and review on the District’s website.

“This will ensure that the Board provides increased focus, transparency, and accountability as well as an opportunity for the public to be informed about and serve witness to the School Board’s policy, practices, and procurement decision-making processes involving nearly $1.1 billion that have been allocated to enhance and uplift the learning and lives of our students---especially those facing the greatest challenges and with the greatest needs,” said Dr. Gallon.

To read the full item, click here:

$1.1M Available to Black-Owned Businesses in Florida. Come Out Thursday, August 23 to See If Your Business Qualifies

Community Outreach Flyer_FAMU Credit Union08232018

Thanks to a $1.1 million grant included in last year’s budget,   black-owned businesses across the state can now apply for a loan through a program administered by the Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union in partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Locally, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union will present LOANS AND LENDING FOR BLACK BUSINESS OWNERS, 6:30pm-8:00pm, Thursday, August 23, 2018, St. Paul AME Church, V.F. Mitchell Fellowship Hall, 1866 NW 51 Terrace, Miami, FL 33142. 

“The MDCPS Office of Economic Opportunity is excited to partner with the FAMU Federal Credit Union and provide meaningful information on loans and lending to local black businesses,” said Torey Alston, head of OEO for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Learn more about the application process and requirements to access these funds. The event is FREE to attend. You may RSVP at Please share this information with your networks.


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CHI Becomes First Federally Qualified Health Center Nationwide to Receive Governor's Sterling Award



Miami- Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) is the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the nation to be awarded the coveted Governor’s Sterling Award. The South Florida not for profit comprehensive health care company has been serving the community for 45 years.  The award marks a milestone for the agency as the Sterling Award is a difficult accomplishment that only a few companies can obtain.

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Sterling Council announced today, CHI is among just three winners including the Big Bend Community Based Care, and Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County. Also, the Pinellas County Tax Collector will receive the Governor’s Sterling Sustained Excellence Award.

“The Governor’s Sterling Award winners reflect our focus on making Florida the best state in the nation to live, work and raise a family,” said Governor Scott. “I am pleased that Florida is leading the nation and I congratulate this year’s top-performing Sterling Award recipients. This award is the highest recognition an organization in Florida can receive for performance excellence. The Governor’s Sterling Award process is an efficient tool for all organizations that saves Florida businesses millions of dollars annually.”

Community Health of South Florida Inc. has utilized data based driven tools and methodology to grow its organization. With 11 health centers and 31 school-based centers, CHI offers a wide variety of services including primary care, pediatrics, urgent care, dental, OB/GYN, radiology, behavioral health, laboratory services, pharmacy, free medication delivery and patient transportation to the residents of Monroe and Dade Counties. 

“Community Health of South Florida Inc. has been a trailblazing organization since its inception in 1971, paving the way for innovation, ensuring access for all to comprehensive healthcare and also as a teaching health center, training the next generation of medical professionals,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr. CHI President/CEO.  “The Florida Governor’s Sterling Award confirms decades of hard work and dedication as CHI becomes the first Federally Qualified Health Center to receive this prestigious award. We are so proud of the CHI team for their hard work and commitment to earning the Sterling award.”

In 2014, CHI made headlines when it became the first Health Resources Services Administration designated teaching health center at a Community Health Center in the state of Florida. This is a critical area where doctors are needed to better serve this vulnerable population. CHI is also a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home, the highest level attainable, and its electronic health record is certified to meet meaningful use requirements.

Community Health of South Florida Inc. was created as a resource for the community serving both the insured and uninsured populations. By providing comprehensive services at each of its health centers, patients receive a holistic approach to healthcare in which they can have medical teams from different specialties working toward improving their total health. The organization also has outreach and enrollment specialists that help enroll people in the Affordable Care Act and other insurance plans. Also, there are a number of programs that help the disadvantaged afford life-saving treatments and connect them to points of care.

With more than 800 employees CHI is one of the largest FQHCs in the state. Its mission is to deliver safe, accessible, compassionate and culturally competent quality health care services to the residents of South Florida while training the next generation of health care professionals.


Reconfiguration of branches ushers in the future technological expansion for the largest Black-owned bank in America #BFF


BOSTON, April 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In a bold move towards expansion of its online presence and usage of cutting edge technology, OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, is reconfiguring its branch network including closing two (2) Los Angeles branches, Ladera and Pasadena and seeking a Boston headquarters location. This next strategic journey will generate significant growth and place OneUnited Bank at the forefront of community banking by building what is being heralded by bank executives as the "Bank For The Future" or #BFF.

Headquartered in Boston, the bank continues to use its signature branches at 3683 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016 and 3275 NW 79thStreet, Miami, FL 33147 to offer financial literacy classes and welcome organizations to use its community and board rooms. OneUnited Bank is seeking to own a new national headquarters building in Boston, MA.

The #BFF technology strategy is being coupled with a vibrant outreach strategy that uses a variety of ways to engage the community and customers including popular events, vigorous social media, financial literacy workshops for the whole family and community activities with the many community partnerships formed over the past 20 years. The bank is also launching remote deposit capture, a Visa business debit card, online chat and a conversion of its online platform to provide better services to loan and deposit customers and increase efficiency.

Historically, banks have been measured by the size of their buildings and their number of branches. Most people grew up in an environment where banks with more branches were perceived to be more successful. Times have changed and a new paradigm has emerged.  Today, a fifth of Bank of America branches (or 1,400 branches), have recently been closed. The reality is that as the population ages and technology expands, fewer customers are visiting bank branches for transactions while emerging customers, the millennials, rely on technology to access their banking needs.

"Bank For The Future" is part of a visionary strategy that began twenty years ago when OneUnited started investing in technology. As the first Black internet bank, OneUnited was recently rated one of the top 25 community banks in the country for its social media presence. OneUnited Bank President & COO Teri Williams comments, "Banking is experiencing a new frontier; we need to be where our customers are……in local communities and online! To support our #BFF strategy, we are reconfiguring our branches, committing resources to new technology platforms, better tailoring our loan and deposit products to meet our customers' needs, launching new products such as our UNITY Visa secured credit card, expanding our social media presence and improving our web design to complement our strategy."  "In summary, we are taking the mantle as the largest Black-owned bank in the country and moving forward," she continued.

For more information about OneUnited Bank go to

Forum to bring together Miami's diverse Black population

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Miami-Dade County Commission Chair Jean Monestime is hosting a free day-long community conference to bring together black Miamians of all backgrounds and nationalities to discuss issues affecting the African diaspora and to develop a collective action oriented agenda. County Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Audrey Edmonson and Dennis Moss, and Miami City Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon are co-hosting the conference.

The “ONE HERITAGE: State of Black Miami” community forum conference will take place on Thursday, April 7 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Florida Memorial University, Smith Conference Center, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens, FL 33054. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

This activity is long overdue. If applied and executed with genuine concern for the potential of the collective rather than other individualized agendas, this could be the tipping point for realizing advancement of blacks throughout this community. Hopefully, assignments with deadlines and follow-up will result from this conference. There have been far too many forums in this community that have largely only been opportunities for residents to vent frustrations.  

Please make every effort to participate in “ONE HERITAGE: State of Black Miami” if you are concerned about the current and future of blacks in Miami. 

For more information or to RSVP, call 305-694-2779, email [email protected], or visit #SOBM2016



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Live Life Financially Confident with Tips from State Farm Agent Kitsia Gaines on the Steve Harvey Morning Show

Kitsia Gaines and State Farm Team
State Farm Agent Kitsia Gaines (seated) and her team. Gaines will deliver financial education tips on the Steve Harvey Morning Show


Kitsia Gaines has been tapped again to deliver State Farm “Financial Education Minutes” to the more than seven million listeners on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. Listen live online on Thursdays at 9:05 a.m. ET on iHeart Radio; you can also access previous recordings.

Gaines shares tips on a range of financial topics including budgeting, saving, and buying a car and/or house. She will be featured until December 24.

Her professional experience and accomplishments include more than twenty years with State Farm; Million Dollar Round Table Qualifier; and National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors. She’s also a graduate of Florida A&M University; member of the Rotary Club of South Miami; Miami-Biscayne Bay (FL) Chapter of The Links and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Contact Kitsia Gaines, State Farm Agent, at 6704 SW 80th St, Miami, Florida, (305) 661-4213,


Photo: Instagram - Gaines Financial



Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Disparity Study Flawed and Reveals Unequal Playing Field for Black Contractors, says Committee


Organizations to discuss dismal spending history of MDCPS and other local governmental organizations


Independent study reveals that less than 8% of MDCPS
construction and design contracts awarded to black-owned firms

The Committee for Fair and Equitable Distribution of Public Contracts has released a report examining and challenging the accuracy of the vast majority of the findings in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Disparity study. The in-depth study, Leveling the Playing Field: A Response to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Disparity Study Report, was sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Miami, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP, and BAC Funding Corporation. The findings will be publicly released to the business community during a press conference and community meeting on Wednesday, September 10th from 6PM – 7:30PM at Freedom Hall of the Urban League offices located at 8400 NW 25th Ave, Miami.

The findings along with 15 recommendations were presented to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who agreed with 13 of the 15 recommendations and gave a commitment to provide a letter of agreement to implement the recommendations. However, the Superintendent he has not kept on his word, and the Committee is urging the Superintendent and MDCPS that promises made should be promises kept. The Committee also urges the Office of the Inspector General to review the report.

The response provides substantiating evidence that the disparity study commissioned by MDCPS is flawed, unreliable, and troubling based on errors and omissions found and a review of the District’s dismantled Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program. As the fourth largest school district touted as a “truly global multi-cultural and multi-ethnic school system” with black students accounting for nearly 23.5% (82,939) of the district’s 353,152 students, MDCPS has established a pattern and practice of denying African-Americans fair and equitable contracting and sub-contracting opportunities in its procurement and construction contracts. An investigation of the District’s procurement practices revealed that of the $7.5 billion in total procurement expenditures from 1986 to 2009, African-American firms received less than two percent of those contracts ($107.7 million). Black firms also received less than eight percent of the $7 billion spent in construction and design contracts ($546 million) well behind Hispanic firms that received 27% and non-minority firms that received 60%.

“Promises made should be promises kept,” says T. Willard Fair, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami. “This is not isolated to being just a black issue; this is a fairness issue and anyone who is in support of fairness whether white, black, women, Hispanic or any other group should be concerned and outraged.”

Superintendent Carvalho embarked on an aggressive campaign visiting black churches, speaking with black media, and meeting with various groups to garner the black vote all in an effort to convince voters to approve a $1.2 billion bond referendum. He committed that the bond initiative would provide economic development and employment opportunities to the tune of 9,200 jobs during the first three years, would promote greater public/private partnership ventures, and would provide citizen advisory and oversight committees to ensure timely and equitable distribution of projects. Instead, MDCPS and the Superintendent has moved in the opposite direction of making good on those promises of inclusion and diversity in contracting, and there has been little to no participation by African-American subcontractors to date.

“We will not stand to see our community continue to be left out of opportunities that have the potential to create sustainable economic development in our community,” shares Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP. “We will hold the Superintendent and the school board up to their commitment so that black-owned firms have equitable contracting opportunities.”

The Bond Construction Program is a prime opportunity for MDCPS to invest in the growth and development of its local M/WBEs, and it would be irresponsible and destructive not to do so. The Committee, comprised of small business owners, financial investors, developers, and community leaders, recommends that MDCPS reject its Disparity Study and place an immediate moratorium on the Bond and Capital Construction Program. As the largest government unit and job creator in the County overseeing a massive budget of over $5.6 billion dollars in public funds, MDCPS and the Superintendent is urged to step up and demonstrate its commitment to fairness and equality.

William DC Clark, president of ICARE, cautions that when reading the MDCPS disparity study, be aware that the study was originally slated to cover the 2005-2011 fiscal year but the District realized that by moving the study up a year, to 2006-2012, would reflect black contractors receiving more contracts. Clark also asserts that "the District also tried to hide almost a billion dollars in Maintenance contracts under the heading of Procurement because they knew that Black Contractors didn't receive one penny of those Maintenance contracts. Also, there are no Blacks on the Emergency contract list, which amounts to millions of dollars. This does not only adversely affect black contractors but the Black Community as well."

Media, business leaders, and concerned community members are invited to attend the press conference and community meeting. Links to the summary findings of the study are included below.

Final Executive Summary of Disparity Study Findings

Call to Action and 15 Recommendations






Miami, FL - After careful research of Church Chambers of Commerce in the United States and abroad, there are only four (4) in the nation.  It is incumbent that Florida be among the ranks and more apparent that Miami join the ranks of distinct and rare Church Chambers of Commerce across the country.  The New Black Church Chamber of Commerce has arrived in Miami and Florida.

Temporarily housed at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church of South Miami, Inc., The New Black Church Chamber of Commerce (NBCCC), referred to as “The Chamber” is an organization of distinct individuals in their prospective field of expertise that advances the commercial, financial, non-profit and industrial interests of all.  The essence of The Chamber is economic empowerment, net working, collaboration and linkage for the business community of Miami-Dade County. 

While The Chamber continues to maintain an unwavering commitment to its mission [a conglomerate of ministries, businesses, individuals, emerging leaders and community leaders who have come together to create an enterprise that focuses on success, viability and stability; implementation and maintenance of programs that promote youth entrepreneurship, training and community economic development; collaboration with and building of coalitions with other organizations throughout the city and state; and to establish global, strategic relationships and/or partnerships across the public and private sectors] a new Chamber is in town!

In its growing stage, the NBCCC will be a source of financial empowerment, a source of entitlement for home ownership, education and a host of other entrepreneurial services.  Membership is open to all regardless of race, creed, color or religion.  It will act as a marketing and resource liaison for its members by encouraging and assisting the grassroots section of the community to participate and become involved.  It will also develop and implement programs, partnerships and strategic alliances. 

Under the direction of Dr. C. P. Preston of Peaceful Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, The Chamber intends to instill values and business sense to enhance entrepreneurship.  “We are absolutely thrilled about having a new Chamber in town of a different but relative venture, we will embrace entrepreneurship with positivity on another level”, states Dr. Preston.  “We have spent a year and a half building a brand that will be a catalyst for change.  The Chamber will position the change as a dynamic, bold leadership organization and as a progressive, forward thinking entity in the community”, states the Executive Director, Sharon Johnson.


For more information, contact:

Sharon Kendrick-Johnson, CEO
(305) 772-7001

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]


Lesson for the Masses: Why I Hate The Hook-Up

Alfred Editor-in-Chief Alfred A. Edmond, Jr. delivers hard-hitting commentary on the practice of many blacks who want black businesses and professionals to provide free goods and services in Why I Hate The Hook-Up. Please read it in its entirety. Here's an excerpt:

"...No, they can't wash your car, pull your teeth, do your hair, fix your computer, edit your manuscript, paint your house, build your web site, etc. for free! Discount? Maybe. Complimentary services for referring new—paying—customers? Okay. An occasional freebie for long-time, loyal customers who always pay? Sure. Barter my goods or services for yours? We might be able to work something out. But, FREE? NO!"

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10 Holiday Shopping Tips by Lisa Rogers-Cherry


1. Make a list for who and what you're buying and set a budget for each.
2. Be sure to take the advertisement to the store with you for the items that you want to purchase.
3. Pay close attention to your purse and/or wallet. Pickpockets are extra busy during this season.
4. Keep all of your receipts in an envelope and ask for gift receipts when making purchases for others.
5. Give gifts that you can make.
6. If you have to mail gifts, don't wait to the last minute. Send them early, if possible.
7. Avoid the crowds and shop online. Be sure to google online promotion codes and coupons for the stores that you are purchasing from.
8. Use cash only to make purchases.  Do not use your credit cards!
9. Steer clear of buying extended warranties.  Usually the manufacturers warranty covers the first year anyway.
10. If you have a large family, pull names and purchase one gift instead of purchasing for each family member.
Lisa'spic_pdf[1] Lisa Rogers-Cherry is the author of Lifting the Burdens of Debt:  A Helpful Guide to Getting Your Debts Paid and Your Life Back on Track (2005; $14.95). Lisa writes monthly financial tips for and can be heard on  on the Let's Talk Money Show.  If you have a question or for more information go to, e-mail her at [email protected], or write Lisa Rogers-Cherry, Red Pen Press, P. O. Box 1196, Dania Beach, FL 33004.