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Business Journal

Entrepreneur | Business | Education and Career | Finance | Real Estate | Technology | Insurance

December 2017


Inspire, Inform & Educate


124th Edition

Carla Lane LaneStaffing Big Business Solutions. Small Business Flexibility

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Odyssey Media And The Coca-Cola Company Salute Multicultural Houston Small Business Owners.


200 Volunteers from Smile Generation, First Metropolitan Church and KaBOOM! Built a Community Playground, Based on Children’s Drawings.


In the Business Community… The Black Professionals Alliance (BPA) 8th Annual Holiday Social & Toy Drive

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December 2017  |  3

Publisher’s Message is proud to share the success stories of African American businesses and civic and community leaders. We know that success does not always come easy and it is not always measured in money. How have you helped your fellow entrepreneur? Have you supported your locally-owned African American business? Have you donated to a nonprofit that is working in our underserved communities? Questions to think about and actions to take. This month’s cover story highlights Carla Lane, CEO of LaneStaffing and Founder of This Woman’s Work. LaneStaffing

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us." —Helen Keller

has grown into the largest minority-owned employment solutions provider in the Southwest – an accomplishment that speaks volumes about the leadership and team of LaneStaffing. Not one to rest on her laurels, Lane founded This Woman’s Work (501c3) to address the needs of youth and women in the community. Lane is a true community leader and we are proud to share her story. As always, thank you for your continued support of When you support us, you are supporting more than just our company; you are supporting the communities in which we live and work. Working together, we can succeed in making positive things happen.


Behind the Journal

contents 04 Business 04  The Power of Why! 04  Tips to make your Home Special for the Holidays.

Publisher & CEO Keith J. Davis, Sr. COO & Managing Editor Kimberly Floyd ACCOUNTING MANAGER Eugenie Doualla SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES C.T. Foster Tiffany Black PHOTOGRAPHY L.C. Poullard Grady Carter MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR Andrea Hennekes LAYOUT & GRAPHIC DESIGNER Angel Rosa Project Coordinator Antoniece Portis DISTRIBUTION Booker T. Davis, Jr. Rockie Hayden CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Valerie Jones Noel Pinnock Linda Lindsay Courtney Johnson Rose Charlotte A. Jackson Lynette Monroe Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner News Provider

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06-07 COMMUNITY 06  Odyssey Media And The Coca-Cola Company Salute Multicultural Houston Small Business Owners 04 06  Change is Consistent and Not Always Good 07  200 Volunteers from Smile Generation, First Metropolitan Church and KaBOOM! Built a Community Playground, Based on Children’s Drawings 08-11  In the Community… 08  Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Fifth Executive Economic Summit 09  2nd Annual Stilettos and Champagne Fundraising Reception 10  Emmanuel Cares Community Development Corporation 11  The Willie L. Marsaw Foundation Blazers and Bowties Holiday Event 12 EDUCATION 12  What Everyone Can Learn from the Texas ESSA State Plan 12  Texas Southern University collaborates with D.C. firm to create specialized academic support software 14-23  Cover Story 14-23  Carla Lane 16 Entrepreneur 16  Black Announces Website Relaunch The new and completely redesigned website will offer exclusive interviews, on-demand video, expert opinions, and more

ADVERTISING | MARKETING MEDIA | COMMUNICATION • Business Journal • Health & Wellness Journal • Community Journal • Black Pages Online Business Directory • Top 50 Black Health, Medical & Wellness Professionals • Top 50 Black Professionals & Entrepreneurs • Top 30 Influential Women of Houston • Top 25 Prime & Subcontractors for Diversity • Business Connection • Business Development • Business Consulting • Graphic Design • Photography • Printing • Web Design • Online & Email Marketing • Public Relations • Social Media • Advertising • Writing • Promotional Marketing

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18 Finance 18  TX 15274-13 SBA Disaster Loans Surpass $2 Billion to Help Businesses and Individuals Hurt by Hurricane Harvey 20 Political 20  Mayor to Lead Business Delegation on Trade Mission to China, Houston's 2nd Largest International Trading Partner 21  Congress: Continue CHIP and Save Texas Children info MAIN OFFICE 7322 Southwest Fwy., Suite 800 Houston, TX 77074 Phone: (713) 373.5577 | Fax: (713) 750.9472 Email Us:

22 Real Estate 22  Rebuilding Together Restores Harris County Three Months Post-Hurricane Harvey 23  7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home

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25  In the Business Community… 25  The Black Professionals Alliance (BPA) 8th Annual Holiday Social & Toy Drive




Certified: HMSDC - Port of Houston - Metro City of Houston - HISD - HUB Experience Our World of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Communication

4  |  December 2017 Business

The Power of Why!

Tips to make your Home Special for the Holidays. By Linda Lindsay Contributing Writer

When it comes to decorating there are rooms in the home that deserve more TLC than others. Let’s start with the living room. The living room should make a statement. It's where you spend most of your downtime and entertain guests, allow this area to scream celebration. Next the master bedroom. The master bedroom should be your sanctuary, so invest in great bedding! Transform a room and create a moody elegance with a statement color. Even a small space deserves a focal point, so hone in on one wall to start with an accent color and add a new burst of personality.

By Noel Pinnock Contributing Writer


ary Kay Ash built a multi-billion dollar cosmetic empire and pioneered a powerful movement among women who were looking to enhance their natural beauty with high quality products that compliments her natural tone and features. Over time, Ash and nine independent beauty consultants were hugely successful architects of her empire because she empowered a fleet of sales consultants to build their homebased business while enjoying freedom and flexibility. Whether it’s a part-time endeavor or a primary source of income, the Mary Kay opportunity gives women a proven way to pave their own destiny. Today, Mary Kay is a top beauty brand and direct seller in nearly 40 countries around the world. So, you should be asking yourself, how was she able to amass this venerable empire that continues to maintain a competitive edge amongst a sea of cosmetology companies in global and technological markets. The answer to this conundrum isn’t as complicated as some would assume Some may assume that it has something to do with profit margins, shareholder advantage, investments, assets, and market position. Others may say that her customer base and repeat business is the main reason Ash’s empire continues to thrive and maintain its competitive edge. Oh, almost forgot…maybe it was the pink Cadillac. Honestly, it could be any or many number of factors that contribute to Mary Kay’s success but one thing is for certain, businesses are not successful because the product is the best on the market or least expensive. Businesses and organizations excel and reach their maximum net value when its workforce and customers/clients believe in the reasons why. Simon Sinek, in his recent Ted Talk, made some riveting remarks on the subject. “Every single person and organization on the planet knows what they do 100%. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiating proposition or proprietary process or USP. But very very few people and organizations know why they do what they do. And by why I don’t mean to make a profit – that’s a result. It’s always a result. By why I mean, what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? As a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious; we go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and organizations, regardless of their size or industry, all think, act, and communicate from the inside out. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Here’s the best part. None of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenants of biology. Not psychology – biology. If you look at a cross section of the human brain, looking from the top down, what you see is that the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the Golden Circle. Our newest brain – our homosapien brain, our neocortex corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical


Shop for pieces that are both unique and have meaning When deciding which room to adorn with certain holiday items, try to mirror the style of your space. For example, if you have a traditional living room, this may be a great place for your collection of antique ornaments. Coordinating holiday decor with the style of the room is in no way a hard and fast rule, but keeping it in mind can help clarify your mission and make holiday decorating seem much less overwhelming.

thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains and our limbic brain is responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior and decision making, and it has no capacity for language. In other words, when we communicate from the outside in then yes, people can understand vast amount of complicated information like features, benefits, facts, and figures, just doesn’t drive behavior. When we communicate from the inside out, we are talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from.”

Ash knew the reasons why people would spend their hard-earned money and sometimes money that they didn’t have to purchase her beauty products. Ash understood that there is great power in celebrating those who can sell the why behind the product? Every year consultants around the world converge in any city or town for the Mary Kay National Awards Night to be honored for their contributions to the empire. It was more than just receiving trinkets and gifts. Her consultants would walk through the fires of hell and back to support the company because they understand the reasons they exist and the why behind the leader! There are leaders and then there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority but those who lead inspire us, whether they are individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why?” that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them. Ash mastered the power of “why!” She is quoted saying, “there are two things that people want more than sex and money and that is recognition and appreciation.” Why, you may ask? And my response would be…think about it! #getatit!

Make your home feel special at Christmas, you do not have to follow any rules! Try mixing and contrasting elements. A room should never strike just one note. Try polarizing qualities and using elements that seem like they shouldn’t work, but do. This will create a tension that brings intrigue and curiosity to a space. Create a clean environment with eclectic oddities, luxurious textures next to raw ones, old pieces with new ones, that’s what gives a room character. Shop flea markets and consignment shops. You will find specialty items that make you smile. Decorate with pieces that are both unique and have meaning. Use your own antique items to create eclectic home décor. How great would it be to adorn your sofa with a T-shirt stuffed as a pillow that you can no longer wear.

Always be prepared for unexpected holiday guest with this tip Place a decorative bag at your front door filled with under five dollar gift items as a grab bag for unexpected holiday guest. Tuesday Morning is a great place to shop for these types of home décor items. Also support small community businesses this time of JOY. Designing Your Lifestyle, Linda Lindsay

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December 2017  |  5

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6  |  December 2017 COMMUNITY

Odyssey Media And The Coca-Cola Company Salute Multicultural Houston Small Business Owners


Change is Consistent and Not Always Good By Charlotte A. Jackson Contributing Writer


IN THE BLACK tour confirms that multicultural Houston small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs refuse to allow hurricane to deter them from success. By News Provider


dyssey Media, the leading brand in the empowerment of multicultural women, stopped in Houston, TX on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 during the 3rd Annual IN THE BLACK tour. For the third consecutive year, the tour is a part of The Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 program, an initiative developed to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs worldwide by the year 2020. On Friday night, over 150 women attended the IN THE BLACK Houston event free, thanks to the generosity of The Coca-Cola Company. “We know that women are the pillars of our communities. We strongly believe in investing in women to foster economic growth and sustainable development,” said Lori George Billingsley, Vice President of Community Connections at The Coca-Cola Company. “We are proud to support women entrepreneurs by partnering with Odyssey Media’s In The Black Tour, a program that empowers women to build businesses, support their families and shape their communities.” In a Sept. 2, Business Insider article, Houston business owners expressed that their small businesses, which make up 99% of Houston’s companies, face a long road of restoration after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Houston on Aug. 31. According to the article, many lack large cash revenues and are suffering from having to shut down temporarily or permanently due to extensive damages. Linda Spradley Dunn, CEO and Founder of Odyssey Media is quoted as saying “Harvey has been especially difficult for Black and Latina small business owners and it has discouraged many who wanted to start a business. Our sisters need us, and we will be there! We will customize the program and focus on where women can get immediate help.” The Odyssey Media team did just that, the customized program introduced 5 dynamic Houston businesswomen; Carla Lane, President and CEO of LaneStaffing; Jackie Adams, Owner of MELODRAMA Boutique; Denise Hamilton, CEO of WatchHerWork; Shawn Flowers, Professional natural hair stylist; and Kim Roxie, Founder of LAMIK Beauty. Odyssey Media is known for bringing influential

women together. The Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, received a standing ovation as she presented Linda Spradley Dunn with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives, 18th Congressional District of Texas. Congresswoman Jackson Lee was joined on stage by State Representative Shawn Thierry, representative of District 146. Earlier this year, Linda Spradley Dunn launched “Keys to Success,” a $25,000 pitch competition and digital workshop designed to help solve the number one issue facing African-American, female, smallbusiness owners: access to capital. Ironically, the winner of this year’s contest was Houston’s own Kim Roxie, who was also presented with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition. The national tour’s panels have also featured notable multicultural business women including Melanie Elturk, Founder & Co-owner of Haute Hijab; Sharmeen Hawkins, African-American businesswoman who owns over 15 franchises; Mikki Taylor, author and Essence Magazine Editor-at-large; Kelli Fisher and Tana Gilmore, also known as “The Matchmaking DUO,” who quit their corporate jobs to start a matchmaking business for affluent multicultural men and women; and Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter. While the live national tour concluded in Bermuda this past Sunday, IN THE BLACK will extend to Paris in the Winter, and over 40 virtual locations across the United States.

his morning as I was getting prepared for the day, I began to think about all of the changes I have experienced in the past year. Several loved ones passed away and many of the people I know welcomed new babies and new spouses. Hurricane Harvey brought much devastation to our lives and yet, the World Championship Houston Astros brought a celebration second to none to the city. This year has brought about announcements from Senator Ted Poe and Congressman Gene Green concerning their decisions not to run for re-election. This will impact thousands of voters. With the filing deadline to be on the March Primary Ballot, candidates are scrambling around looking for endorsements. Texas Governor Greg Abbott introduced legislation which passed the Senate to eliminate “straight party voting”. Unless this is overturned, we may see some life-altering changes in our state. If voters do not take the time to research candidates and know which ones support their values, they may not bother to vote for a candidate and we could experience a shift like never before. Perhaps the greatest change that needs to come from us, is to sit down and talk with young voters as well as those who only vote in Presidential Elections and explain the importance of researching and getting involved in campaigns. During every election, there are opportunities to work with candidates, to volunteer as Deputized Voter Registrars and to also get paid to be an Election Worker. Please take the time to share this with others. There are too many voters who do not even know the rich history that Harris County has concerning late elected leaders such as US Representative Barbara Jordan, Houston Councilman Judson Robinson, Jr and Congressman Mickey Leland. These individuals are the reason why so many others entered politics. Today we have Senator Borris Miles, Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, State Representatives Senfronia Thompson, Ron Reynolds, Armando Walle, Harold Dutton, Jr and we certainly cannot forget our Mayor Sylvester Turner. In 2016, we saw many elected to judicial seats in Harris County that we may recognize their affiliation with the Democratic Party, but will we remember their names in March for the ballot if not allowed to vote a straight party ticket? PLEASE take the time to research, attend Town Hall Meetings, and take time to meet the candidates and share with others. Sometimes people will ask me why it is important to vote….the answer is simple. Do you want people to represent you who have no idea of who you are or what matters to you? Do you want judges who cannot understand that not everyone has the same foundation? Do you want elected leaders lining their pockets with donations from big businesses who do not care about the community? Do you want to elect someone who understands what preservation is about and why it is important to US? As we transition to the holidays and into 2018, take the time to stop and think about the changes YOU want to see in 2018. Let those changes begin with you.

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December 2017  |  7 COMMUNITY

200 Volunteers from Smile Generation, First Metropolitan Church and KaBOOM! Built a Community Playground, Based on Children’s Drawings By News Provider


ore than 200 volunteers from The Smile Generation (@smilegen), including more than 100 dentists and staff, members of the First Metropolitan Church (@FirstMetChurch) and the community joined KaBOOM! (@kaboom) on Saturday, November 18, to give area kids the childhood they deserve by building a new playground at First Metropolitan Church, located at 8870 W Sam Houston Parkway North. The design is based on children’s drawings created at a special design event held in September. “Houston has been through a lot the last couple of months, and we are so happy we can bring some joy to this community by building this playground,” says Kyle Guerin, Sr. Manager, Smile Generation. “We have lots of employees that are passionate about giving back to the communities in which they work, and we were so happy to work with KaBOOM! and First Met to help build a place for the entire community surrounding the church to play and be outdoors.” A playground is more than a place to play. It’s a brain-expander, friend-maker, and muscle-builder. Play is central to a child’s ability to grow into a productive adult. It can transform children from becoming sedentary, bored and solitary to becoming physically, mentally and socially prepared for life. “Kids stay inside watching TV, instead of exercising and playing outdoors,” says Dr. Evelyn Ogletree, First Metropolitan Church’s Executive Pastor. “We are so happy KaBOOM! and The Smile Generation chose First Metropolitan Church for this playground as it will draw the community together to enjoy outdoor fun. You are never too old to play and have fun, and although much of the playground is for small children, there are activities for teens, as well as a garden area for seniors. It will definitely be a great addition to our community!” Since 1996, KaBOOM! has been dedicated to the bold goal of giving all kids – particularly those growing up in poverty in America – the childhood they deserve, filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. With its partners, KaBOOM! has built, improved and opened nearly 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.5 million kids (#playmatters). The new playground will bring more than 2,500 kids in Houston one step closer to having the playfilled childhood they deserve. In building this play space together, we are making it easier for all kids to get balanced and active play and making Houston more playable. First Metropolitan Church is a church that promotes family and strives to meet the needs of the community mentally, spiritually, economically as well as physically. The church promotes exercise, nutrition, well-being and play. This playground will provide a community space for a garden, a playground and a creative arts area. Our new park will be a very critical addition to our community. The playground is the 11th built by The Smile Generation and KaBOOM!. Through this partnership,

more children will have the joyful childhood they deserve. The Smile Generation supports KaBOOM! in promoting and protecting a child’s right to active play at home, at school and in the community. The Smile Generation made a generous donation to make this playground a reality.

AboutThe TheSmile SmileGeneration Generation About The Smile Generation® is a referral service that connects patients with trusted dentists and offers financial options that help patients afford the care they want and need. The Smile Generation® network is made up of approximately 600 dental offices. Smile Generation-trusted offices are supported by Pacific Dental Services®. Website: Facebook: @smilegen, Twitter: @smilegen, Instagram: @smilegeneration #SmileGeneration, #smile4play

AboutFirst FirstMetropolitan MetropolitanChurch Church About First Metropolitan Church is a strong pillar in the Northwest community of the Cypress Fairbanks area in Houston, Texas. The church is 31 years old and is led by Pastors John and Evelyn Ogletree. First Met is a family of faith leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ by Belonging, Connecting, Growing and Serving. We strive to build strong families and equip them to be progressive citizens in their community. Our goal is to meet their needs spiritually, emotionally, economically, as well as physically through teaching, counseling, training, developing leaders, promoting fun and providing a campus where they can play and pray together. We offer support services to our members and the city of

Houston through our food and clothing pantry, child development center and a summer camp. First Met is very mission minded in caring for the disadvantage. We provide missionary services internationally by building homes and sending food to Haiti. This year we built 10 homes. Our goal is to make a noticeable difference in the lives of all people which will bring enjoyment and a better way of life for generations to come. Facebook: Twitter: @FirstMetChurch, Instagram: @FirstMetChurch

AboutKaBOOM! KaBOOM! About KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – particularly those growing up in poverty in America – the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open, or improve more than 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.5 million kids. KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support play, and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives. To learn why #playmatters and why cities are embracing #playability: visit or join the conversation at or CONTACT: The Smile Generation: Amber Vermillion, 281-919-6820, First Metropolitan Church: Evelyn Ogletree, 713-203-0898, KaBOOM!: Caroline Finnell, 202-464-6164,

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8  |  December 2017

In the Community…

To View More Photos, Visit Our Website and Click on ‘Photo Gallery.’

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Fifth Executive Economic Summit Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), hosted the Caucus Foundation’s Fifth Executive Economic Summit (EES V): “After Hurricane Harvey: Economic Lessons Learned and the Role of Business in National Disaster Relief Efforts.” While the CBCF Summit series typically focuses on mapping minority access to capital with business leaders and others in the financial services sector, this Summit also focused on those in our communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The summit included a pre-Summit reception & VIP dinner with the actual Summit highlighting Houston residents’ recovery efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder/Chair of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Radio One, Inc. and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke during the Summit.

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December 2017  |  9

In the Community…

To View More Photos, Visit Our Website and Click on ‘Photo Gallery.’

2nd Annual Stilettos and Champagne Fundraising Reception

This Woman’s Work held the 2nd Annual Stilettos and Champagne Fundraising Reception at the Ensemble Theatre. This Woman’s work is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls with programs that lead to social and economic empowerment and gender equality. The following awards were presented: "A Hand Up Award" Presented to Chris Noble, The Rose; "A Hand Up Award" Presented to HISD Homeless Education Project: Project Prom; "Dream It, Do It Award" Presented to Jacqueline Aluotto NIMBY Project and Eddie and Betty Lane Unsung Hero Award Presented to Miranda and Andre Horn, Industrial Welding Academy.

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10  |  December 2017

In the Community…

To View More Photos, Visit Our Website and Click on ‘Photo Gallery.’

Emmanuel Cares Community Development Corporation, is a non-profit organization incorporated to provide programs for citizens in Northeast Houston through education, training, support services, and employment opportunities offered for children, youth, adults, and seniors. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Emmanuel Cares CDC and the members of Emmanuel Church partnered with Wal-Mart, community members and concerned citizens with us from as far away as Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan, to help provide relief for those in need. Through donations, we were able to provide clothing, shoes, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and more. “At Wal-Mart, we believe in giving back to the community. The basic ideals and beliefs in which the company is founded teaches us to serve the communities around our stores. We are privileged to become a corporate sponsor to such a worthy nonprofit organization. Wal-

Mart is especially proud to fund things that enhance and bridge any gaps that exist with children in our communities. Wal-Mart is a proud sponsor of Emmanuel Cares,” said Renee Jones, Store Mgr. Wal-Mart 602, Woodlands, Texas. On December 9, 2017, Emmanuel Cares CDC held our Inaugural Gala Fundraiser Brunch at the Walden on Lake Houston Country Club in Humble, Texas in efforts to assist us achieve our goals. Our Keynote Speaker was Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson, District 141 of Houston. We are still in need of monetary donations to ensure that the needs of the community are met. Your donation can and shall make a difference. All donations are tax deductible and can conveniently be given through our website: Checks can be made out to Emmanuel Cares CDC and sent to our address: 40 Cypress Creek Parkway - #333, Houston, Texas 77090. Thank you for making a difference!

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In the Community…

December 2017  |  11

To View More Photos, Visit Our Website and Click on ‘Photo Gallery.’

The Willie L. Marsaw Foundation Blazers and Bowties Holiday Event

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12  |  December 2017 EDUCATION

What Everyone Can Learn from the Texas ESSA State Plan By Lynette Monroe NNPA


ducation officials in Texas put a lot of work into the Every Student Succeeds Act state plan that they submitted to the Department of Education. We can all learn from what they included and what they chose not to include. The Texas plan is supported by the strategic priorities of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These priorities include: (1) recruiting, supporting, and retaining teachers and principals; (2) building a foundation of reading and math; (3) connecting high school to career and college; and (4) improving low-performing schools. TEA acknowledges these priorities require support and therefore list three prerequisites referred to as “enablers” for effective implementation of these strategies. These enablers include: (1) increased transparency; (2) ensuring compliance; and (3) the strengthening of organizational foundations. Overall, Texas's plan is designed to implement ESSA as Congress intended; allocating resources and funds according to need, closing the achievement gap, and increasing community partnerships. TEA states several long-term goals. The first, being that by the year 2030, sixty percent of Texans aged 25-34 will possess some form of post-secondary credentials. Another long-term goal is a 94 percent high school graduation rate. For English Language Learners, TEA proposes that by 2032, forty-six percent of students should be achieving English language proficiency. To support these long-term goals, Texas has established shortterm targets in five-year intervals. A major component of equitable resource allocation is the collection of data. TEA evaluates academic performance by ethnicity, economically disadvantaged, students receiving special education services, students formerly receiving special education services, English learners, continuously enrolled, and mobile. The minimum size for subgroup data reporting is 25. Data for subgroups 10 or smaller will be calculated using a three-year composite score. Considering the population of Texas metropolitan areas, it seems the subgroup size of 25 is appropriate. TEA will also periodically review the resource allocation process for local education agencies; which could include a review of per-pupil spending. ESSA requires that schools use three academic measures and one non-academic school quality or student success measure to determine school achievement. TEA has chosen to use the “percentage of assessments at or above the Meets Grade Level standard for all students and student groups by subject” as their school quality and student success measure for elementary and secondary schools. For high schools, TEA will use college, career, and military readiness to include: students who earn dual credits; students who successfully complete AP Exams, students who are awarded associate's degrees while in high school, students who enlist in the military, etc. These “non-academic” indicators are disappointing since the U.S. Department of Education encourages less emphasis on testing. Four of the six indicators of school success identified by TEA include an element of testing. Students deserve holistic education that values social development as well as academic achievement. Primarily focusing on test scores as a means of determining success devalues other important categories of intelligence, such as musical-rhythmic and harmonic abilities. Texas does deserve praise for their inclusion of a “Closing the Gaps Domain” in their A-F accountability system. The Closing the Gaps Domain focuses on

educational equity for all children; irrespective of ethnicity, economic status, or special education status. The Closing the Gaps domain must represent at least 30 percent of the overall school rating. Any school that has one or more significant gaps in achievement between subgroups will be identified for targeted support and improvement. TEA will also use a ranking system; comparing school progress to other schools with similar student demographics.


Texas Southern University collaborates with D.C. firm to create specialized academic support software By News Provider


exas Southern University has partnered with the Education Advisory Board (EAB), a research and technology company based in Washington, D.C., to improve the outcome of the University’s top priority – student success and completion. EAB’s Student Success Management System and Navigate software will link administrators, academic advisors, deans, faculty, and students in a coordinated care network to aid in managing student success at Texas Southern. The new program will work in conjunction with the college’s ERP system to create customized models using real-time student data to identify at-risk students. Academic advisors can use the software to be proactive in assisting students who need special attention. “TSU will be on the cutting edge of using predictive analytics to turn existing data into insight and proactively serve students. Our efforts will ensure that students who are at risk of having academic problems are identified early and remain connected with advisors who can provide critical help,” said Wendell Williams, special assistant to the president and interim executive director of enrollment management. “This intrusive advising method should have a major impact on everything from retention rates and grade-point averages, graduation rates and successful careers.”

Texas also seems to have made every effort at establishing community partnerships by proposing numerous consultations under a variety of circumstances. Campuses that need comprehensive support or require even more rigorous interventions must undergo a district-led improvement plan. However, before any plan may be submitted the district must consult with parents and community members. TEA has also included parent and community feedback in their initiatives to reduce the risks of student dropouts; the Texas Readers Initiative focuses on creating parental and public awareness while the redesign of school report cards assists parents in better understanding their child's learning needs. So, although school accountability measures focus primarily on testing, and support for a well-rounded curriculum like the promotion of the benefits of a free enterprise system, as well as, religious literature including “the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature,” Texas made a concerted effort to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act according to the original intention of the law to allocate resources and funds according to need, close the achievement gap, and increase community partnerships. Lynette Monroe is a master's student at Howard University. Her research area is public policy and national development. Ms. Monroe is the program assistant for the NNPA's Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Lynette Monroe on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.

Tigers Collaboratively Learning and Actively Working (TCLAW), serves as the campus engagement group of administrators, advisors and faculty members who will work with EAB representatives to customize software for each college and school at TSU. The implementation plan will continue into the Spring term and go live just before the Fall 2018 semester. This initiative is a result of TSU’s participation in the Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) for Houstonarea college students. Implementation will help Texas Southern meet the targets set in its TSU 2022 initiative and fulfill its obligation toward the state’s 60x30 education plan.



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December 2017  |  13

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14  |  December 2017

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December 2017  |  15

Demonstrates How One Woman’s Success Can Help Shape and Empower All Women By Valerie Jones Editorial Consultant


here are some people who become content after they achieve a certain level of success. And then there are people like Carla Lane. Lane is the president and CEO of LaneStaffing, the largest minority-owned employment solutions provider in the southwest United States. That designation wasn’t easy to get. Coming on in 2003 as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of what was then DiverseStaffing, Lane was responsible for driving the company’s comprehensive financial strategies.

In 2006, Lane took a risk and purchased the then failing company, changed the name and shifted the creative and operational mindset. The results were definitely worth the risk. “It was strategic to purchase an already established company,” she said. “I bought their assets and had to literally figure out, through trial and error, how to dig the company out of a hole and make it work.” It takes a certain level of business acumen and foresight to take a struggling company and transform it into a $20 million enterprise. Lane was able to do so, leading LaneStaffing to expand to more than seven states, and with a client base of Fortune 100 and 200 companies and government contracts.

Lane has been featured in Forbes and Ebony, been recognized by numerous publications and organizations, been a recipient of the 2007 Pinnacle Award – the highest award for entrepreneurial excellence given by the Houston Citizen’s Chamber of Commerce (now the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce) – and still finds time to be there for her family as a wife and mother. But her superpowers don’t stop there. Lane knows the importance of charity and giving back to the community. She founded This Woman’s Work, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to empower girls and

women for success. Funded gifts to the organization help support several programs, which include: •  Stepping Into Strength (SIS) Mentoring Program, which builds and develops young girls in the community to become resilient, fearless, educated and empowered to succeed. Young girls are mentored every month and provided educational workshops and college readiness along with social and cultural activities •  Carla’s Closet, which provides support for women who need appropriate clothing to secure or maintain employment, is a Dress for Success Houston (DFSH) referral partner and the Closet supplements that effort during times when clients cannot get to them such as closures, holidays, weekends, etc. •  IronWomen Mentor is a program for women to eliminate negative competitiveness and encourage positive assistance to each other. These women serve as mentors to girls in the SIS Program as well as mentors to clients who receive services through the Closet and to professional women. On Dec. 3, Lane found a way to combine two things she loves – high heels and champagne – into a charity event benefitting This Woman’s Work. Stillettos and Champagne 2017 was the organization’s second annual event and it took place at the Ensemble Theatre. It was an extraordinary night of inspiration and empowerment – and like the name suggests – stillettos and champagne!

“Everybody knows that I love all things shiny, bubbly, glitzy and glamorous, but isn’t that part of the magic of being a woman?” said Lane. “And can’t women support each other and still be all those things? On Dec. 3, the answer was a resounding ‘YES!’” The Stillettos and Champagne reception featured live music, dancing, artwork by local artists, a fashion show featuring heels designed by shoe designer Kamica Hampton and the “I Can” awards presentation – which recognized outstanding women who are helping other women in the Houston community. “It was phenomenal,” Lane said of the event. “When we started the journey of creating a space for mentorship and a hand up for women and girls, I wasn’t sure that people would support this passion work. However, I am pleasantly surprised that [they] get it. It’s a cause that is unique, but important, and although it’s not a matter of physical life or death, it is a matter of emotional life or death, of living or existing. When women lend their wisdom, experience, networks and resources to each other, something magical happens. This Woman’s Work happens.”

To learn more about This Woman’s Work and how to support, visit

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16  |  December 2017 Entrepreneur Announces Website Relaunch The new and completely redesigned website will offer exclusive interviews, on-demand video, expert opinions, and more By News Provider


lack Enterprise, the premier business and financial resource for African Americans, today unveiled a completely new and improved website, The redesign sets the destination apart as being the most comprehensive source of online information for African American professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. provides original, interactive content pertaining to small business, wealth building, and careers, and it includes expert contributors. The site's new layout offers better usability, intuitive navigation, and enhanced search capabilities for all of BE's signature lists, including a current and historical archive of the BE 100s, the top-grossing black-owned businesses in the nation, the Top 50 Best Companies for Diversity, The Most Powerful Women in Business, Power in the Boardroom, and more. "The site upgrades, which will feature both enhanced content and a redesigned format, will provide a better overall user experience and will enhance the company's already well-established position as a leading voice for African Americans," says Shelly Jones Jennings, V.P. of Digital of Black Enterprise. will also feature a multimedia library with unlimited, free-of-charge video access to Black Enterprise's television programs, Our World with Black Enterprise and Women of Power TV, as well as access to Black Enterprise magazine's historic issues and behind-the-scenes content from Black Enterprise signature events; Women of Power Summit, Entrepreneurs Summit, Black Men XCEL Summit, and TechConneXt Summit. "Black Enterprise is the country's most recognized media brand for the African American business community," says Earl "Butch" Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise. "With the relaunch of, we can leverage the phenomenal power of the Black Enterprise brand across all mediums—print, online, and television. Our distinctive, award-winning content is now available to consumers wherever and whenever they want it." averages half a million monthly visitors and continues to grow. In the coming months, will be further optimized to support even more online advertising opportunities. Originally launched as BE Online in 1996, the site fosters business development and networking opportunities for individuals and corporations seeking information pertaining to African Americans, or seeking to do business with African Americans. Experience the new by visiting Black Enterprise, your ultimate source to build Wealth for Life, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, Black Enterprise magazine provides 6 million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. A multimedia company, BE also produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content, and digital media. Visit for more information. SOURCE

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December 2017  |  17

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18  |  December 2017 Finance

TX 15274-13 SBA Disaster Loans Surpass $2 Billion to Help Businesses and Individuals Hurt by Hurricane Harvey By News Provider


dministrator Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced today that the SBA has approved more than $2 billion in low-interest federal disaster loans to help Texas businesses and residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey. “I deeply appreciate the hard work done by SBA’s Disaster Assistance employees, our volunteers from SBA district and regional offices around the country and other federal agencies during the last two months,” said Administrator McMahon. “It truly has been an all hands on deck response. As Texans begin the task of rebuilding their businesses, homes and communities in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane, the approval of more than $2 billion in disaster loans will go a long way towards putting people back in their homes and back to work,” she continued. So far, in just over 70 days, SBA has approved 1,435 loans for $143,630,000 to help businesses and 23,273 loans for $1,920,488,500 to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Businesses and residents who sustained damages are encouraged to register with the Federal Emergency

Management Agency before the Nov. 30 extended deadline at www.disaster“Don’t miss out on any assistance you may be entitled to by not registering for help. You don’t need to wait for your insurance to settle or obtain a contractor’s estimate,” McMahon said. SBA representatives are still available at all federal-state Disaster Recovery Centers and five SBA Business Recovery Centers throughout the affected areas to explain SBA’s disaster loan program, help business owners and residents complete their electronic loan application and close their approved disaster loans. Additional information and details on the location of the

centers is available by calling (800) 6592955 or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba. gov/disaster. Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to help businesses and residents with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future. For small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans

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to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disaster Applicants may receive additional disaster assistance information by visiting may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or emaildisas sends e-mail) for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. The deadline to apply for property damage is Nov. 30, 2017. The deadline to apply for economic injury is May 25, 2018. Source:

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20  |  December 2017 Political

Mayor Turner Led Business Delegation on Trade Mission to China, Houston’s 2nd Largest International Trading Partner By News Provider


ayor Sylvester Turner recently led a trade and goodwill mission to China, Houston’s second largest international trade partner and a nation with key business and cultural ties to the city. “This trip is an essential mission to enrich all of Houston’s ties with China and explore new business opportunities that will help nurture our local economy with jobs and investments,” the mayor said. “As a city of innovation and diversity, we value the Chinese businesses that have already established operations in our city and welcome others to explore the myriad opportunities for investment, business development and tourism available in Houston. Working with the Greater Houston Partnership, our delegation will expand on Houston’s global city status that makes Houston strong and unique.” The Houston delegation of business leaders and government officials will conduct “Houston Business and Investment Seminars,” and visit with their counterparts, in the dynamic cities of Shenzen, Shanghai and Beijing. Shenzhen is a Houston sister city and a major financial center with ties to nearby Hong Kong; Shanghai is the most populous Chinese city and a major port location; Beijing is the nation’s center for government and development. Their combined municipal population is 58 million. “Chinese businesses are discovering that Houston is uniquely positioned as a hub for doing business all across the Americas,” said Bob Harvey, president and

CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. “These global leaders realize that Houston is not only an ideal location to invest, it is a strategic ecosystem for the exchange of technology, expertise and best practices with other global partners. That’s why we are seeing companies from China – and from all over the world

– establishing their regional headquarters in Houston.” Thirty-nine Houston businesses operate 113 subsidiaries in China, most of them in the energy, law and shipping sectors. In turn, 16 Chinese firms operate 18 subsidiaries in the Houston area. These businesses contribute to the annual $15 billion in import-export trade that China conducts with Houston. Houston includes 65,700 residents born in China and about 100,000 residents of Chinese descent, contributing to the Houston’s status as the most diverse in the United States and a city where a fourth of the population was born in other nations. Air China operates five non-stop flights per week from Houston to Beijing. The Houston delegation will include Council Members Greg Travis and Larry Green and state Rep. Gene Wu; more than 80 business leaders organized by the Partnership, and staff from the mayor’s office and the Partnership. The delegation will exchange best practices and intellectual capital with Chinese counterparts in energy, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, logistics, finance, real estate, tourism, education and law. Commodities that Houston exports to China include fuels, oil and other refined products, grain, plastics, industrial equipment, computers and electrical machinery. Chinese commodities exported to Houston include industrial equipment, computers, electrical machinery, furniture, lamps, iron, steel, toys, games, sports equipment and plastic products. Source:

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December 2017  |  21 Political

Congress: Continue CHIP and Save Texas Children By Sylvester Turner Mayor of Houston


ore than a decade ago, a young member of my church, 14-year-old Devante Johnson, was battling kidney cancer. He was previously covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program and was receiving cancer treatment. His mother, a hard-working paralegal, earned too much to qualify for Medicaid in Texas but too little to afford expensive cancer treatment for her son. CHIP was created to fill the gap so that children in circumstances like these would qualify for assistance. However, the state of Texas, which administers the program, had put onerous requirements on continued qualification for CHIP, causing him to wrongfully lose coverage. Despite his mother doing everything in her power to reverse the error, Devante was unable to access treatment for months. As a member of the Texas Legislature at the time, I was able to get Devante his needed cancer treatments at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. But four months of lapsed coverage and treatment made it too late to save him. Devante passed away in 2007. There was still time to save children who could find themselves in Devante’s shoes. In the 2007 legislative session, I filed House Bill 109, which changed state law to remove the restrictions that directly led to Devante’s coverage lapse. The law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and expanded the coverage for more than 130,000 children. Gridlock in Washington now threatens not only to erase the work we did in Austin, but to end the program altogether. Congress allowed the deadline for

reauthorization to pass without action and CHIP authorization expired September 30th. This is a problem with a solution. In fact, the solution is rather simple: A bipartisan bill to fund CHIP through 2022 is currently before Congress. However, its renewal has been caught up in a political tug-of-war and used as collateral for other political agendas. Members of Congress have attempted to tie CHIP to unpalatable political goals. As a result, CHIP reauthorization has stalled and its funding is nearly depleted. The state of Colorado has already sent letters to CHIP recipient families alerting them of the program’s end. The Texas program will run out of funds on January 31st. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has requested $90 million from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — at best a stopgap measure that will extend the program through February. If the agency refuses the request, families with children on CHIP will receive cancellation notices among their Christmas cards. Even if funding is extended, those families may be receiving cancellation notices in February. In either scenario, more than 450,000 children in Texas will lose their health care in early 2018 if Congress fails to act. These are the children whose working parents are making too much money for Medicaid and too little to afford exorbitant private health insurance premiums. I have left the Texas Legislature and now serve as mayor of Houston, home to the largest concentration of health care institutions in the world.

Some of the most significant advancements of our time occur at the Texas Medical Center. Newly discovered treatments, procedures and technologies that will save and improve the lives of millions across the globe originate in our city. My heart breaks when I think about the fact that thousands and thousands of my youngest constituents will not be able to benefit from those advancements because of congressional inaction. How many of the 78,000 children on CHIP in Harris County will face the same challenges in lapsed coverage as Devante Johnson if the program ends? What does the future hold for the nearly 10,000 Harris County expectant mothers on CHIP’s perinatal program, which assists with prenatal and some postpartum care, and the children they are carrying? HHSC has said letters informing CHIP recipient families of the program’s termination will go out soon if nothing changes. Congress must act now to prevent that from happening. It is unacceptable that in a city with such rich medical resources, the children of hardworking parents are denied access to even basic medical care. It is intolerable that this circumstance exists because Congress was unable to reach a political solution to a life-ordeath problem. The lives and health of millions of children across the nation, thousands and thousands in Houston, are too important for Congress to ignore because of political agendas. Texas learned this hard lesson a decade ago. I can never forget Devante Johnson, his mother and the fact this tragedy was preventable. Congress should remember him and the over 9 million children like him whose lives depend on CHIP, and take action now.

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22  |  December 2017 Real Estate

Rebuilding Together Restores Harris County Three Months Post-Hurricane Harvey With large donation from leading home hardware and fixture brands, National Hardware®, Kwikset® and Pfister™, the Houston area non-profit is ready to help the community rebuild. By News Provider


he local Houston affiliate of the national nonprofit Rebuilding Together has a plan to help Harris County homeowners reclaim their lives three months after Hurricane Harvey. With donated home hardware products valued at retail for $1 million from National Hardware (leading manufacturer of residential builders' hardware), Kwikset (the #1 selling U.S. residential lock manufacturer) and Pfister (prominent faucet and plumbing hardware manufacturer), brands of Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division, the Houston non-profit is prepared to help local homeowners in vulnerable populations severely affected by the devastating storm. Rebuilding Together is a registered non-profit organization which brings volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners. Its local affiliates across the country rebuild formerly unlivable homes, making them livable again while changing lives along the way. "Hurricane Harvey captured national attention because the storm was devastating for so many in Harris County," says Christine Holland, Chief Executive Officer, Rebuilding Together - Houston. "As we stand here three months after the storm, we are beginning to rebuild local homes from the ground up and we are beyond grateful for the donation from Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division which will make such a difference in our work and peoples' lives." Employees at Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division's Tell Manufacturing facility, located in Houston, Texas, lost possessions and homes to Hurricane Harvey, inspiring three of the holding company's brands to take action. "We were motivated to help not only our Harris County employees but their families, friends and neighbors," says Tim Goff, Chief Marketing Officer, Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division. "Three of our leading home hardware brands answered the callto-action by donating home hardware products with a retail value of $1 million to Rebuilding Together in the hope these products will offset costs for the organization and touch more lives in Harris County."

The non-profit is working with community leaders in the Houston area and began inspecting homes last week. The overarching goal is to help homeowners get their homes back to being livable. "We are always open to more donations, whether that be product, monetary, or time and service," says Holland. "With the donations from National Hardware, Kwikset, and Pfister, Rebuilding Together will be able to outfit rebuilt homes with quality hardware we normally wouldn't be able to afford – and we encourage other companies to follow suit. The more help and donations we receive, the greater our impact will be." For more information about Rebuilding Together, or Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division, please visit or To interview Rebuilding Together Houston and Spectrum Brands, Inc. - Hardware & Home Improvement Division spokespeople, please email the media contacts below.

About Rebuilding Rebuilding Together Together About Rebuilding Together Houston impacts the lives of thousands of Houstonians annually by providing free home repairs for low-income elderly, U.S. Military Veterans, and people with disabilities. Since 1982, we have reinvested more than $120 million in affordable housing throughout Harris County, Texas. Through the work of volunteer groups and licensed contractors, and with the support of individual donors, local businesses and corporate partners, Rebuilding Together Houston revitalizes Houston communities, providing safe and healthy housing for neighbors in need.

provement (HHI) Division is a major manufacturer and supplier of residential locksets, residential builders' hardware and plumbing with a portfolio of renowned brands, including Kwikset®, Weiser®, Baldwin®, National Hardware®, Pfister™ and EZSET®. HHI is a leader in its key markets with a #1 position in U.S. residential locksets (Kwikset), Canada residential locksets (Weiser), U.S. luxury locksets (Baldwin), and U.S. builders' hardware (National Hardware), and #3 in U.S. retail plumbing (Pfister). Headquartered in Orange County, California, HHI has a global sales force and operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Asia. HHI is a division of Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPB). Spectrum Brands is a global, diversified consumer products company and a leading supplier of consumer batteries, residential locksets, residential builders' hardware and plumbing, shaving and grooming products, personal care products, small household appliances, specialty pet supplies, lawn and garden and home pest control products, personal insect repellents, and auto care products. Spectrum Brands employs over 15,500 employees worldwide and sells to the top 25 global retailers with products in more than one million stores. SOURCE

AboutSpectrum SpectrumBrands BrandsHHI HHI About Spectrum Brands, Inc. Hardware & Home Im-

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December 2017  |  23 Real Estate

7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home Real Estate is one of the number one investments a person can have. There are numerous benefits included tax savings, stabilizing your credit and gaining equity which equals wealth. If you are not a home owner yet, let’s make 2018 your year to buy a home of your own!

By Courtney J. Rose Contributing Writer

ost potential home buyers are overwhelmed by the fact that they're about to agree to a hefty mortgage that they'll be paying for the next few decades. The best way to relieve that anxiety is to be confident you're purchasing the best home at a price you can afford with the most favorable financing. These seven steps will help you make smart decisions about your biggest purchase.


DecideHow HowMuch MuchHome HomeYou YouCan CanAfford Afford 1.1.Decide Generally, you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as daycare if you plan to have children.

DevelopYour YourHome HomeWish WishList List 2.2.Develop Be honest about which features you must have and which you'd like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the extra category. Come up with your top five must-haves and top five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pour over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn't up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7. Get Get Prequalified Prequalified 7. Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you're qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements. If you're self-employed, you'll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years. Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate if you go this route. I typically recommend fixed rate loans for first time buyers.

SelectWhere WhereYou YouWant Wantto toLive Live 3.3.Select Make a list of your top five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask a REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

StartSaving Saving 4.4.Start Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 5%-10% minimum of the purchase price set aside for a down payment, but some lenders allow 0% down. A smaller down payment may preserve your savings for emergencies. There are also other down payment assistance programs for first time buyers you may qualify for.

5.Ask AskAbout AboutAll Allthe theCosts CostsBefore BeforeYou YouSign Sign 5. A down payment is just one home buying cost. A REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area -- including home inspections, attorneys' fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you'll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6.Get GetYour YourCredit Creditin inOrder Order 6. A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. The minimum credit score you can have to qualify for a loan depends on many factors, including the size of your down payment. Talk to a REALTOR® or lender about your particular circumstance. You're entitled to free copies of your credit reports

8. Get Help 8. Get Help A seasoned real estate professional can guide you through all the steps of home ownership and help to ensure you are well prepared for your home purchase. Use their experience and expertise to avoid pitfalls and to make a good investment! Courtney Johnson Rose - CCIM, GRI, M. CD Principal Broker George E. Johnson Properties Real Estate - Residential - Commercial 713-221-5555 ext 116

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24  |  December 2017

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In the Business Community…

December 2017  |  25

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The Black Professionals Alliance (BPA) 8th Annual Holiday Social & Toy Drive

The Black Professionals Alliance (BPA) presented the 8th Annual Holiday Social and Toy Drive at the Revention Music Center on November 30th. Carmen Herrera of National Sales Network (NSN) and Gene Padgett of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) spearhead this event, and together they form the Black Professionals Alliance (BPA). This event started out with four organizations and has blossomed to over twenty in the past eight years. Literally thousands of children have received toys as a result of the efforts of this conglomerate of professional black associations and organizations. This year was another fantastic year and hundreds of toys were collected!

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26  |  December 2017




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December 2017  |  27

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Carla Lane - LaneStaffing