NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The U.S. General Services Administration recently held a two-day training session at Tennessee State University to educate historically black colleges and universities on seeking contracting opportunities with the federal government. Called “Growth ’22 Series,” the event was part of a GSA regional outreach training initiative geared toward advancing equity for HBCUs in the federal market place. It was part of the White Initiative on HBCUs aimed to ensure that these institutions have equal access to GSA contracting programs to purchase products and services.
Representatives from several HBCUs including Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, and Jarvis Christian University joined TSU at the workshop, that also included presenters from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Energy.
Cheryl Thornton-Cameron, executive director of the GSA Office of Acquisition Operations, said the agency is “100 percent” committed to spending time with the HBCU community to make them aware of all federal funding and grant opportunities, as well as employment opportunities for HBCU graduates.
“Today we want to bring more awareness to our HBCUs organizations through our Growth ‘22 Series,“ Thornton-Cameron said. “The Biden/ Harris administration is committed to making sure that these institutions are given more opportunities to get federal government business and funding, and also look at hiring more HBCUs students. What we do know is that some of the brightest employees actually come from HBCUs.”
According to Thornton-Cameron, TSU was the first stop of the Growth ’22 training tour. The next workshop will be at Jackson State University.
“We want to thank President (Glenda) Glover for opening the doors and allowing us to come and set up to where we can have a conversation with other HBCU brothers and sisters, because lots of HBCUs don’t even know that they can play in the federal government market place. HBCUs can tap into billions, whether it is federal procurement, grants or hiring HBCU students.”
Dr. Quincy Quick, professor and interim assistant vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, said the GSA training allows the university to enhance its systems, and helps staff to be more efficient in seeking contract opportunities.
“The forum provided an opportunity for HBCUs to partner with GSA, and gave us the ability to acquire contracts from the federal government,” Quick said. “The forum also gave us another way for us to be able to identify research opportunities that will be more contract base.”
The event at TSU followed a Feb. 16 roundtable discussion GSA held in Atlanta aimed at increasing the number of HBCUs with “Multiple Award Schedule” (MAS) contracts and provide training and education to help the institutions achieve success in the federal marketplace. The MAS, also known as the “Federal Supply Schedule,” is a procurement option often overlooked by public institutions of higher learning.
Kenny Sessions, a doctoral student and a representative of the Small Business Administration at TSU, said he went to the workshop to see how the GSA can expand its services to the university in ways that help business owners.
“We found today in working with the GSA that there is a lot of initiatives coming in from the White House in which HBCUs can expand their reach, as well as participate in projects that can bring them revenues for services that they can provide government agencies,” Sessions said. “There is a large reach and as most of the GSA representatives presented, they need to get familiar with us and we need to get familiar with them.”