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December 8, 2020: Webinar: Higher Education Procurement Opportunities with Minority-Owned Businesses

Dear AICUM Colleagues,

We are writing to urge you to join us in focusing on a critically important issue – supporting Black and minority-owned businesses as a way to make the communities in which our institutions operate stronger. As we all know, the last several months have exposed the structural racial inequities that prevent Black, Brown and other underrepresented communities from full participation in the ever-evolving experiment we call American democracy.

The Racial Wealth Gap that exists throughout this country has been well documented. The median net worth of a White family in America is more than 10 times that of a Black family and more than 9 times that of a Hispanic family. In Boston, the median net worth of a White family is $247,500, compared to $8 for an American born Black family. Wealth affects where you live, your access to health insurance and to healthcare, and the types of schools your children can attend, whether you can afford to buy a home, whether you have the resources to start and grow a business, and whether you can afford to attend college without a substantial amount of financial assistance.

Minority business development can reduce this gap and its negative effects on our communities. A greater awareness of and urgency for minority business development by colleges and universities benefits all of us by making the communities in which our institutions operate stronger and more viable. Supporting minority owned businesses will have a positive impact on communities of color, thereby allowing us to recruit a student body that is more diverse and more able to pay their own way. In the past few months, a number of us have issued statements in support of racial justice and against police brutality. We can effect structural change by supporting minority owned businesses. Quite simply, we can support minority business development by buying goods and services from minority owned businesses.

To facilitate Higher Education’s engagement in this effort, AICUM is sponsoring a webinar led by Peter Hurst, President of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (“GNEMSDC”) and Segun Idowu, President of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) and moderated by Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College and a Board member of BECMA.

It is scheduled for December 8, 2020 from 9-10 a.m. This is intended to be a high-level presentation for Presidents or their designee (CFOs or VPs for Diversity and Inclusion) with a series of practical take-aways on how an individual institution can engage their products and services procurement process with minority-owned businesses.

Zoom Link to Join the Webinar:

Like the business community in general, minority owned businesses range in size and sophistication from small, struggling mom and pop businesses with no employees to large, complex companies with billions in revenue and thousands of employees. In New England, there are over 19,000 minority owned businesses with employees, and these companies have aggregate revenues that exceed $18 billion and over 135,000 employees. Closer to home, Massachusetts has 10,000 minority owned businesses with employees, and they have aggregate revenues of over $9 Billion and over 78,000 employees.

The higher education community has demonstrated its collective power to effectuate meaningful change in the urgent and collaborative way in which it is responding to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Directing that same collective potential on minority business development will help to make all of our communities stronger and more viable. We can make a real and lasting difference and build back better the communities impacted by the pandemics of economic devastation and structural inequities.

The nation still looks to colleges and universities to solve its most pressing problems. We encourage you to attend our webinar to discuss and explore procurement strategies that have the promise to lift up communities in need.


Lee Pelton, President, Emerson College
Richard Doherty, President, AICUM