City: Dallas, TX
Entrepreneurs: Albert Black (CEO, On-Target Supply & Logistics), Micah Brooks, Virginia Waldrop, ReadyToWork
“Common people…doing uncommon things.” That’s the motto of On-Target Supply & Logistics, the parent company of ReadyToWork in Dallas. The slogan is emblazoned across the walls in their headquarters, located in a converted warehouse five minutes – but also a world away – from the trendy Bishop Arts district in Oak Cliff. With all due respect to the team at ReadyToWork, we’re not sure they’re so common.
We worked closely with Micah Brooks, the President of RTW and a native of Dallas, and Virginia Waldrop, the organization’s Health Literacy Training Coordinator, who hails from Houston. After pursuing postsecondary degrees on the east coast, both returned to their home state to effect positive change. Their cause: teaching Texans the skills they require to be productive, healthy members of the workforce. This includes, among other programs, providing a college and career readiness curriculum, training in industry-recognized certifications, and introductions to health and financial literacy.
Micah, Virginia, and the other RTW employees go to great lengths to reach members of the Dallas community that traditionally have not had a lot in the way of career support. Student Transition Coordinators strive to meet with each member of a high school class, not just top students, to explore college, scholarship, and vocational options that the young person may not have otherwise realized were available.
One might think that the improved outcomes for the students that RTW serves would speak for themselves when the organization is trying to win new contracts, but the convoluted nature of the sales cycle in school districts has proved challenging to navigate. In collaboration with Micah, Virginia, Cherri Darthard (VP of Business Development), Ashley Treat (Assistant Director, PASS Program), Ginny Chandler (Lead Transition Coordinator) and some of RTW’s longest standing customers, we spent the week developing a better sense of customers’ purchase criteria and processes and designed a tailored sales pitch and approach accordingly.
Should RTW need inspiration as they continue to push the boundaries of education and workforce development, they need look no further than across town. On Thursday, we had the pleasure to meet Michael Sorrell, the President of Paul Quinn College, who has led the small private historically black institution through a tremendous transformation over the course of his eight years at the helm. Beyond pioneering his New Urban College Model, in which students offset the cost of tuition and gain valuable work experience by holding a part-time job while they study, Michael has instilled the campus with an ethos he calls “We Over Me.” He challenges students to follow the 4 L’s of Quinnite leadership:
- Leave places better than you found them
- Lead from wherever you are
- Live a life that matters
- Love something greater than yourself
President Sorrell’s vision resonated deeply with our team. We leave Dallas with his message ringing in our ears, and hopeful for the efforts that he, Micah, Virginia, and so many others are investing to get our country’s young people ready to work.