Institute for Critical Urban Policy and Department of African & African Diaspora Studies
Chairman Turner spearheaded an effort with The University of Texas at Austin to establish the Institute for Critical Urban Policy and Black Studies Department, which will both launch in the fall of 2010. The Institute will work closely with the Texas Legislature and serve to address and study issues affecting the African-American and rapidly growing urban population in the state.
African American Higher Ed Initiative
Under the leadership of Senator Royce West, the Caucus is working with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and others to increase and retain the number of African-American students in colleges and universities in the state.
U.S. Census 2010 Partnership
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is an official partner of the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau to reach minority and hard-to-count populations. As a part of this initiative, Caucus members promoted a variety of outreach events to educate their respective districts. Events included Census Sunday, which encouraged pastors and religious leaders to speak to their congregation about participation in the Census, and Community Leadership Meetings to empower other local leaders to spread the word about the Census.
Paul Quinn College
In July 2009, the TLBC began working with Paul Quinn College in Dallas, the state’s oldest historically black college, in efforts to ensure the college would stay open after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) preliminarily removed its accreditation. Working with various stakeholders and helping to raise over $1 million for the college, the TLBC helped to ensure the school remained financially stable and viable. In August, Paul Quinn College’s accreditation was restored and in October the Caucus held a reception to welcome students to the new academic year on campus.
E.O. Smith Middle School
In June 2009, TLBC members teamed up with community leaders and parents to ensure the historical middle school in Houston’s fifth ward would stay open to serve the community after a decision by the Houston ISD Board to close the school due to low enrollment. A month later, the Board overturned the decision to close the school, working with the community and parents on a plan to increase enrollment and on long-term educational quality improvement goals.
Minority Business Forum & Workshop
In September 2009, the Caucus hosted a forum in Houston for historically underutilized businesses to discuss their experiences applying for contracts with the state. Prompted by concerns raised by a number of constituents, the forum began a dialogue between community leaders, businesses, and state agencies to ensure minority businesses receive full and equal access to state contracting opportunities. In October 2009, the Caucus hosted a workshop with the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs to inform businesses currently contracting with the department on best practices to increase minority business subcontracting opportunities.