Local, small and minority-owned businesses can register at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Hurricane Contracting Information Center, www. rebuildingthegulfcoast.gov, to receive information on Katrina contracts, or can call the center’s help line at 1-888-4USADOC to receive counseling on navigating the bidding process. About 1.5 percent of the $1.6 billion awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has gone to minority businesses, less than a third of the 5 percent normally required. Under procedures detailed by FEMA, federal officials will solicit competitive bids for the remaining Katrina work. Contracts will be for five years, with preference given to local, small and minority-owned businesses.
Medical, Mental Health Care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $12 million to minority institutions to support minority individuals, families and children affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The grants, which include $300,000 to support a Katrina Relief Network formed by the National Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Black Social Workers and the Association of Black Psychiatrists, will support greater access to health and behavioral health care services, assistance through faith-based and community organizations and enhanced communications through minority media outlets.
The New York Court of Appeals ruled that an employer’s or landowner’s duty to provide a safe workplace is limited to employees and does not extend to third parties such as employees’ spouses. The case, Holdampf, et al. v. A.C. & S. Inc., et al. and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, involved injuries allegedly sustained by the plaintiff as a result of laundering her husband’s asbestos-contaminated clothes during the 30-year period he worked for New York’s Port Authority. The court held that the Port Authority did not have a duty to the employee’s spouse because she did not have a direct relationship with the employer. The National Federation of Independent Business said the decision will protect small-business owners against liability suits from third-party claimants exposed to asbestos.
Vera Moore Cosmetics
Vera Moore Cosmetics opened at Nubian Heritage’s flagship store at Fifth Avenue and 126th Street in Harlem, New York City. It is VMC’s fourth retail location in New York after the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn and the Manhattan Mall in Manhattan. The opening coincided with the celebration of Vera Moore Cosmetics’ 26 years in business. Moore was one of the first Black actresses to be contracted to work on a national television show when she portrayed “Linda” on the soap opera Another World for 12 years.
FedEx Freight East, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over allegations that the company discriminated against Black dockworkers in St. Louis, Mo. The EEOC sued in 2003 on behalf of 20 Blacks who worked for American Freightways Inc. at the time of the alleged bias, saying Blacks were denied promotions from part-time to full-time jobs at the company’s trucking terminal in St. Louis and that another was denied promotion to a supervisory position. FedEx Freight said the alleged events occurred before FedEx acquired American Freightways in 2001.
Computer Science Careers
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates wants minority college students to consider careers in computer science. In a tour of college campuses that ended with a stop at Howard University, Gates said computer software writers will be in greater demand than ever in the next decade, but the number of college graduates seeking software jobs is declining. While those jobs pay great and are fun, “we haven’t made it clear the steps to get the right skills to get these jobs,” Gates said. He visited the universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, Princeton and Columbia and the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
Saving for College
BlackAmericaWeb.com is teaming up with Independent 529 Plan and The Black Wealth Network to increase awareness among African-Americans about the importance of saving for college. Independent 529 Plan is a prepaid college tuition plan tailored specifically for private colleges, including Historically Black Colleges and many of the country’s leading research institutions. Individuals can open Independent 529 Plan accounts at no charge and locate member institutions by calling 1-888-718-7878 or through the Internet by visiting www.independent529plan.org .
Minority members of the National Pest Management Association formed Minorities in Pest Management (MiPM) to promote and educate minorities in the pest control industry. The group held its inaugural meeting at PestWorld 2005, the industry’s premier annual gathering. MiPM, which was spearheaded by Genma Stringer Holmes of Holmes Pest Control, Hermitage, Tenn., said its Web site will be a portal for companies looking to partner with minorities in the industry and will serve as a vehicle for MiPM members to promote their accomplishments and milestones.
Your Money and You
The Allstate Foundation and ACCION New York launched a bilingual financial literacy toolkit entitled “Your Money and You/Su Dinero y Usted,” that covers the essentials of personal money and credit management, as well as business fundamentals. It includes a self-assessment tool, lesson guides, personal worksheets and a guide to additional resources. Free copies of the toolkit are available at the ACCION’s financial literacy seminars. For more information, contact ACCION at 212-387-0494, www.accionnewyork.org .
A report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 40 percent of adults used the Internet to obtain news, weather or sports information in 2003, a sharp increase from only 7 percent six years ago. In a measure of how interpersonal communications are changing, 55 percent of adults used e-mail or instant messaging in 2003, up from the 12 percent who did so in 1997. The report also shows that in 2003, 47 percent of adults used the Internet to find information on products or services and 32 percent actually purchased a product or service online, compared with only 2 percent of adults who shopped online in 1997.
Black Holocaust Museum
America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisc., is struggling to raise about $300,000 a year for its operating budget. One of the first of its kind in the country, the museum was founded in 1988 by James Cameron, who, in 1930, survived a lynch mob in his hometown of Marion, Ind. Funding for Black museums throughout the country is a challenge, often because of the “uncomfortable” subject matter, said Lawrence J. Pijeaux Jr., executive director for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and president and chief executive officer of the Association of African American Museums.
Chad, Africa’s newest oil producer, wants to change the terms of a revenue transparency agreement backed by the World Bank so it can access millions of petro dollars more quickly. Under the original agreement, touted as a test case in Africa to show that oil revenues can benefit the poor, 10 percent of proceeds from crude production are stored in a special “future generations” bank account overseas. Under the proposed change, the government would have immediate access to more than $37 million to serve the needs of its current generation, such as paying salaries, pensions and grants.