After 30 years of helping schools assess their facilities, Dallas-based Building Solutions has seen what inequities in education look like. Now they’re taking up the social justice work of addressing that inequality.
The national real estate advisor for facility assessments and capital projects announced earlier in the year that it would use its 30th anniversary as an opportunity to shine a light on educational equity, first by seeking nominations for schools that could use help in identifying critical needs in their facilities and operating practices, through its “Building Solutions for Brighter Futures” campaign.
The company will donate 3,000 hours to 30 different schools.
But Wednesday, the company announced it would go further, creating an advocacy committee to help raise awareness and provide solutions for equitable learning environments.
“Following a year of devastating impacts of the pandemic, many schools have now sustained significant damage from winter storm Uri, which in some cases resulted from facility conditions that we hope to identify in our assessments,” said Bill Keslar, CEO of Building Solutions. “We’re extremely grateful to the community leaders who have joined us in championing this cause. Their range of knowledge across education, real estate, mentoring, and fundraising is leveraged by their shared commitment to improving our education system for all students in North Texas.”
The Advocacy Committee is comprised of education, non-profit, business, and real estate leaders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area:
- Byron Sanders, president and CEO of Big Thought, an education non-profit that connects people and organizations to prepare youth and children in under-resourced communities for tomorrow’s creative economy through quality in-school, after-school, and community-partnership experiences
- Kathy Hubbard, assistant dean of diversity, equity, inclusion at Southern Methodist University Lyle School of Engineering, a position which she became the first to hold at SMU
- Dr. Terry Flowers, a long-time educator who currently serves as the Perot Family Headmaster of St. Philip’s School and Community Center, a 75-year old institution that includes an accredited Pre K-6th grade school serving low to moderate income families and community center serving 2,000 neighbors in South Dallas
- Froswa’ Booker-Drew, Ph.D., vice president of community affairs for the State Fair of Texas, responsible for grantmaking, educational programming, and community initiatives. She has an extensive background in leadership, nonprofit management, philanthropy, partnership development, training, and education and is the co-founder of HERitage Giving Circle.
- Doris Prescott, head of volunteer and community services for Services of Hope, which seeks to transform the lives of low to moderate income families through wrap-around social, financial education and literacy, and workforce development services, using data-driven pioneering programs and combining community participation with sustainable funding
- Tré Black, president of TreCo Investments, Ltd., the investment affiliate of On-Target Supplies & Logistics, a regional logistics management firm with global customers and international responsibilities
- Bob Marshall, a civic volunteer who participated in the last three DISD bond campaigns, the earliest dating back to 2008. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Parish Episcopal School and Lumin Education, a charter school district in Dallas.
- Sam Coats, retired airline and corporate executive and former director of several major corporations. As a volunteer, he recently chaired the DFW International Airport Board and served as Interim President & CEO of VisitDallas. He has also served as Chair of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce and as a director of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Dallas area Salvation Army.
“At Big Thought, we’re committed to closing the opportunity gap for our children, and with the events of the past year, it’s time we address the important link between school facilities and a student’s academic success and well-being,” said Sanders. “As a long-time advocate for education and creating equitable communities throughout Dallas, I’m thrilled to work alongside Building Solutions to empower schools to be better stewards of their buildings because if we don’t act now, students will continue to be left behind.”
“The creative approach to supporting students through providing equitable facilities drew me to join the ‘Building Solutions for Brighter Futures’ Advocacy Committee immediately. The education and mentoring aspects of the initiative ensures the sustainability of the investment,” said Hubbard. “As someone who has committed their career to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion in an educational setting, I have a deep understanding of the impact this project will have on driving equity for students across DFW.”
With the counsel of the Advocacy Committee, Building Solutions will assess campuses of participating schools in the North Texas area to identify facility deficiencies and operating practices that hinder learning, health, and well-being; create a mentorship program for facilities staff to enhance their professional and career development opportunities while elevating standards for best practices in school facilities operations, and host a series of conversations with education and business leaders to discuss topics related to educational equity.
And on Wednesday, March 31, Building Solutions will host its first fireside chat from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Equity and Inclusion: COVID-19’s Impact on Students’ Academic and Mental Well-being.
Part of the “Building Solutions for Brighter Futures” campaign is dedicated to hosting a series of community conversations, where they invite education, business, and industry leaders to discuss topics related to educational equity in hopes of empowering and informing the community.
Once the campaign concludes, Building Solutions will issue an impact report, summarizing findings from the facility equity assessments and key learnings from the campaign in hopes to model how such a focus on facilities should be applied to schools across the country.