PRWT Mentoring MLK High School Students

As part of longstanding commitment to the community, PRWT has completed the third year of a four-year mentoring program working with students throughout their scholastic career at Martin Luther King High School, one of the city’s more challenged schools.

A team of eight PRWT managers began working with a group of 9th graders during the 2016-17 school year at MLK. Those students have just finished their junior year of high school, and PRWT has been with them throughout their high school journey. The company leadership wanted to follow the same group of students through the four-year experience.

“The agenda we bring to the students varies,” said PRWT’s Director of Philadelphia operations, Shirlene White. “We go as a group once a month for 3-4 months out of the school year. We bring subjects designed to guide these students and help prepare them for solid futures. They are active participants in the sessions. We also offer ourselves up for guidance. We have students who reach out to us for counseling. ”

For their junior year, PRWT’s topics were focused on post-high school prep readiness and the process for entering college as well as financial intelligence.  Topics included making an informed choice among college, military service or in-demand jobs they could consider right after high school like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. The PRWT team went over how to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and other financial basics.

“We cautioned them about the credit card invitations they’ll soon be receiving before they even have a job and how you have to pay back student loans,” White said. “We told them it’s OK if they haven’t made decisions about what direction they plan to go. We even talked about a gap year that some individuals take. We also performed mock interviews with the students and gave them critiques, as well as reviewed the importance of social media in today’s times when you are applying to colleges.”

The 25 students in the PRWT group are in MLK’s honors program.

“We are invested in these students’ growth, and we have seen a lot of growth. We have met some dynamite young people,” White commented.

The project has complete support from management, starting with CEO Malik Majeed.

“This project is very dear to our hearts,” Majeed said. “We chose MLK because we wanted to make an impact. We are a minority-owned company and we think about diversity all the time. King is considered a high risk high school. We picked it because we know how important it is for these students to see examples in front of them of people who look like them in management positions and running an organization.”

After their 10th grade year, two of the students worked for the company in a summer jobs program last year.

“We had taught in 10th grade the importance of networking, connecting and building relationships. We then gave them an option whereby they could work through the city’s summer jobs program in which we would pay the salary or work directly for us and get paid considerably more,” White noted.

PRWT has two more MLK students coming to work for the company this summer. They will work in back-end services in the lockbox department, which is very similar to PRWT’s back-end banking.

The PRWT team will complete the four-year cycle next school year. CEO Majeed has approved a plan for the students who are moving onto college or trade school to receive a stipend to be used toward tuition.

 

Reflecting on PRWT’s 2018

By Malik Majeed, President, CEO & General Counsel

As we near the end of another exceptional year, I wanted to take the time to reflect on PRWT’s accomplishments and express my excitement for the New Year.

For me, all of this year’s bigger moments can be bucketed into three categories that are central to PRWT’s mission: commitment to our employees, dedication to our clients and communities in which we serve, and business excellence.

Among the grander moments of this year was celebrating the Company’s 30th anniversary. It was truly extraordinary for me to see so many of our Philadelphia-based employees gathered together in one room to congratulate each other for 30 years of marked success. The day was made even more special by our company’s founder Willie Johnson’s attendance.

Mr. Johnson understood the importance of coming to work every day not just for us and our families, but also for the communities in which we live and work, and he fostered that in each and every one of us. Those values were exemplified this year by our team members who work on the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Guayama, Puerto Rico. In the year since Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, our team was able to bring the center back up to operational standards – a feat which, unfortunately, far too few on the island were able to achieve. Joe Rivera, the Kroc Center project manager, summed it up best in this Al Dia article when he stated: “We went where other companies may not have been able to go to.”

Whether it is helping our client recover after a major disaster or adopting a struggling high school in Philadelphia, we continue to invest in our communities, and that sense of purpose feeds into all other areas of our work. Indeed, we continue to be an exemplary company in the minority community, as 2018 marked our 20th consecutive year of making Black Enterprise Magazine’s Top 100 Largest Black-Owned Businesses in the country. Additionally, we are only one of two black-owned businesses in all of Pennsylvania to make the list.

I know that our success is only made possible through the commitment, dedication and perseverance of our employees and professional service partners, so to every single one of you, I extend a sincere “thank you.” I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish this past year, and I look forward to the opportunities ahead of us in 2019. And of course, we will continue to support other minority owned enterprises and seek new opportunities to positively impact them.

Our company’s future remains bright, our relationships remain firm, our customers remain pleased with our services, and we will continue to compete as hard and intelligently as ever. Cheers to 2018, and bring on the New Year!

Philadelphia Business Journal – The real numbers behind diversity in government contracting (Opinion)

Philadelphia Business Journal
The real numbers behind diversity in government contracting
By Malik Majeed, Guest Columnist
November 19, 2018

I had the pleasure recently of attending a news conference presented by members of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration regarding progress in making Pennsylvania’s contracting process more inclusive of small and small diverse businesses.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of General Services Curt Topper noted small diverse businesses continue to face barriers in government contracting. In fact, he called the data “eye-opening.” He noted the administration took steps in 2015 to even the playing field and the portion of contract funding awarded to small diverse businesses increased 35 percent over the past year.

I applaud these officials for their efforts – and the numbers are certainly better under Gov. Wolf; however, we need to look beyond the numbers to understand what that actually means for Pennsylvania.  As indicated at the news conference, studies were performed to look at the disparities between the percentage of contract dollars the Department of General Services (DGS) and PennDOT spent with different groups of minority businesses, and the percentage of contract dollars those businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform specific types of contracts.

Out of the $10.8 billion in DGS contracts, $85.9 million, or 4.5 percent, went to small, diverse businesses. Of the $12.5 billion spent in PennDOT contracting, $1.4 billion, or 11.5 percent, went to certified disadvantaged business enterprises or to diverse businesses. While there has been a significant increase over the last few years, the very low participation percentages indicate the state has a long way to go in leveling the playing field to providing minority contracting opportunities.

PRWT has been growing over the years and has not been considered a small business for some time. As a result, PRWT does not fall into the “small diverse” category, however, our leadership knows African-American- and Hispanic-owned businesses across the state are doing everything they can to compete for contracts. In some cases, African-American and Hispanic business owners have been placed at a disadvantage in the pool of small,  diverse businesses because some of the businesses they are competing against are operated by families, and those family members have the option of deciding “who owns the business,” i.e., the husband or wife, thereby taking advantage of being able to create a small diverse business by putting the wife in as the majority owner and head of the company. According to Philadelphia’s Office of Economic Opportunity, women-owned businesses historically have received 17.3 percent of the total economic opportunity contract dollars compared to 13.8 percent for minority-owned companies.  African-Americans and Hispanics don’t have the option of choosing which category to place themselves. They are simply African-American or Hispanic.