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Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU)

Emergency Management Workforce Consortium


Recent natural disasters primarily weather related have highlighted the limited emergency response training that has been provided to students at HBCUs in vulnerable geographic areas.  In probing the lack of training afforded students at HBCU it was also evident that HBCU graduates do not have a significance presence in emergency management careers. The HBCU Emergency Management Consortium was started and addressed as its initial undertaking the emergency response training needs among students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Consortium is comprised of the following members:

The Consortium has made great strides in proposing actions to address the emergency response training void that exist in the HBCU communities. and determining actions needed for CERT Training, which this paper summarizes discussions to date and proposes additional goals.

HBCU Emergency Management Consortium Purpose/Mission

The HBCU Emergency Management Consortium has adopted the following statement of purpose and mission:

The HBCU Emergency Management Consortium seeks to boost engagement of HBCUs and their students in the field of emergency management by proposing the delivery of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training to the students (and staff and faculty who will support the students). CERT Training will educate students about disaster preparedness and equip them to address hazards that may impact their schools and communities. 

Included in the training is instruction on basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical aid. The training will be available without cost to students.  Students who successfully complete the training will be certified as a member of the CERT team enabling them to serve as volunteers and assist with local emergencies in their communities. There are many benefits in participating in training. At present there is a general lack of knowledge among HBCU students about potential job opportunities in emergency management. CERT training can serve as an introduction to the field of emergency management as a viable career option offering stable diverse well-paying positions.

Increasing the number of HBCU students and graduates who have been CERT trained will also provide value to the communities that surround HBCUs and the communities from which students come and live after graduation. In connection with most major disasters, billions of government dollars become available to assist individuals and communities in recovering(ref).  Trained CERT members heightened awareness of the availability of funds will hopefully encourage team members to participate in efforts of their communities to obtain funds to address needs created by disaster.

Our logic model is presented below:

Logic Model

Proposed Extension of Mission to Pursuing A Broader Initiative

CERT Training should be the start of a broader initiative to engage the HBCU community in the ever-increasing field of emergency management. Sadly, in today’s society crises continue to increase. Natural disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, wind and rain.  Human instigated crises such as bombings and shootings.  Threats of chemical and biological mishaps and terrorism. The potential damage that could flow from an electronic disaster appears to be an emergency threat for which institutions and the community are ill-prepared.
The Consortium should consider a broader initiative of comprehensively addressing the emergency management education and training needs of the HBCU communities. Planning for longevity includes participating in continually developing dynamic training programs to address changing requirements for emergency management and promoting robust involvement of the HBCU community in the field of emergency planning. Promoting the creation of certificate programs and undergraduate and graduate curricula and educating students about emergency management as a career option will expand high paying job opportunities for HBCU graduates.

Current Goal: Goal 1

The HBCU Emergency Management Consortium has adopted an Initial Goal:

The Consortium’s role is to develop strategies and tactical actions to achieve the goal.

Strategies and Tactical Actions for Achieving the Initial Goal

1. Obtain buy-in from the decision-makers.

HBCUs must believe there is value in having students trained to deal with emergencies.

HBCU presidents who have experienced disasters can serve as credible champions of the need for and value of emergency preparedness. A program of the magnitude envisioned cannot succeed without sincere sanctioning by the leadership of participating institutions.  A realistic understanding of what happens when preparation is lacking contrasted with the results when all constituents are educated and trained on emergency management is likely to be the best marketing action.

The Consortium has been leading a pilot program at Elizabeth City State University, Shaw University, St. Augustine College and Fayetteville University.  The pilot schools should be presented as case studies of best practices for emergency management. Soliciting the support of presidents who have experienced disaster could be pursued by the Consortium through a combination of direct in-person and telephonic communications as well as group meetings. The goal would be to have these presidents serve as ambassadors to increase the understanding of HBCU leaders of the importance of CERT Training. All presidential commitments should be memorialized in writing as to give formality to the commitment.

2. Pursue multidiscipline partnerships in order to create a robust HBCU CERT Training program that results in broad delivery of training to HBCU students.  Resources needed include the training materials, presenters, funds to pay the trainers, and funds to administer and market the program.

Tactical actions to achieve this strategy can include:

3. Obtain commitments from HBCUs in FEMA Regions 3 and 4 (for Phase 1) to implement the CERT Training Program at their institutions.

It will be critical to have a designated staff or faculty person, preferably appointed by the HBCU’s president implementation and management of the program.  In addition to championing the value of the program, the designated person must have authority to ensure that all necessary institution functions have a person designated to be trained and involved in emergency management response.

Critical actions include:

4. Develop a process for recruiting, selecting and obtaining commitments from students to participate in the CERT Training.

The long-term success of the CERT Training at HBCUs will be influenced by the commitment of the HBCUs to obtain the necessary resources to continue the program and to maintain a core of trained students, faculty and staff.  Selection of students must occur in a manner that despite the loss of seniors who graduate or trained student who leave the institution prior to graduating there always remains a core group to champion the program and train other students. Incentives to encourage students to be trained and remain committed should be considered.

Critical actions include:

Goal 2: Obtain funding for on-going CERT Training Programs for HBCUs

The occurrences of emergencies will only increase and consequently the need for emergency management will be ever present and grow.  The very nature of higher education dictates that training must continue to be deliver to the new audiences that arrive every school year. Ideally, all students should be trained to prepare for and respond to emergencies both in their school’s environment and their communities.  The need is massive both because of the number of students who should be trained and the revolving nature of student populations.
Obtaining funds to conduct the needed training will require a perpetual effort. Identifying and pursuing funds in the government and private sector will require commitment, action and innovative thinking.

 Goal 3: Establish a Center for HBCU Emergency Management Education and Training

Without question the mission the Consortium has undertaken will provides tremendous value to HBCU students, their institutions and the communities in which the live and work. What has been started deserves to broadened, preserved and continually enhanced as the world changes. The creation of a permanent national center for presenting and developing emergency training programs including certificate, undergraduate and graduate programs should be pursued.

Goal 4: Promote Creation of Emergency Management Curriculum for HBCUs

The need for educated persons to address the abundant demands created by the varied potential emergencies that may occur in today’s world is evident by the sheer number and variety of crisis and tragedies ranging from weather related disasters to terrorism to electronic hacking. The emergency management field provides abundant and high paying jobs that involve a multitude of disciplines.  Graduates of HBCUs must be equipped to compete for these jobs. The Consortium should actively and aggressively promote development of emergency management curricula.

Next Steps