CHICAGO – Urging community colleges to proactively improve contract opportunities for minorities, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, is highlighting a recent report from the Illinois Commission on Equity and Inclusion (CEI) detailing how community colleges have lagged behind goals to expand use of Business Enterprise Program (BEP) entities.

“As Chair of the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee in Illinois, I am calling on community colleges to proactively improve contract opportunities for minorities in our state,” Ford said. “The current statistics clearly indicate a pressing need for change. I am committed to working collaboratively with businesses, universities and community colleges to develop concrete solutions that support the growth of Illinois businesses while championing fairness and diversity in higher education. Let us lead by example and create an environment where all individuals have equal access to contract opportunities, thus driving economic growth and promoting diversity in our state.”

The CEI report recently submitted to the governor and General Assembly can be viewed at

The document, which reviewed state agencies as well as higher education institutions, notes that overall BEP-certified vendors participating in the state’s procurement process continue to increase. However, released data points to almost all community colleges failing to meet or come near the state’s BEP utilization goal of 30% set previously by the General Assembly (Senate Bill 1608, 101st General Assembly).

“We need to do a better job of connecting with and increasing engagement with qualified BEP businesses,” Ford said. “There’s a lot of opportunity to increase participation, but we need CEI and community colleges to work together and be proactive. Let’s see some improvement in these numbers this year.”

For more information, please contact

Rep. La Shawn FordRep. La Shawn Ford

8th District

Springfield Office:
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Springfield, IL   62706
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Chicago, IL 60651
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