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A Family Legacy of Serving the Community: The Homer and Marian Broome Foundation
Marian and Homer Broome
By Nicole Williams
It was the vision of the late Marian Broome, creating a foundation to honor her husband, the late Homer Broome and all of his achievements and commitment to education. The foundation is called the Homer F. and Marian G. Broome Family Foundation (BFF), which is a non-profit corporation “that operates throughout underserved communities in Southern California to equip and encourage young people and families for lives of value and significance through educational, legal and advocacy support services.”
Homer Broome was Commander of Police Chief in June 1975 and was the first Black L.A.P.D to be appointed to this position. The L.A.P.D’s Southwest Division Station was named after him: the Homer F. Broome Southwest Division Station. Homer also published many works including “L.A.P.D’s Black History – 1886 to 1976.” He also held a lifetime California Community College teaching credential and lectured several universities in California such as UCLA and USC. Marian was the founding director of the first-of-its-kind UCLA Emeriti Center, where she offered counseling to retired professors of the university. The Center’s fund now carries her name: The Marian G. Broome Fund. The family together had done great things in the community of Los Angeles from youth advocacy to promoting educational value.
Today, the foundation is operated by Homer & Marian Broome’s son, daughter, her husband and daughters: David Broome, Board Chair; Margaret McNair, Director of Hope4Families and Attorney; Greg McNair, CEO and Associate General Counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District; Courtney McNair, Board of Directors and Rachel McNair, Board of Directors. They have successfully operated their foundation’s signature programs, which are offered for free. Their main signature program, Hope4Families is a special education law firm whom “advocates on behalf of students with special education needs and provides legal services free to them and their families”, according to their mission. Margaret McNair specifically operates the program. Over the course of a few years, they have helped around 40-50 families and have a 100% success rate.
“If an attorney will engage on a parent and child’s special education action, all of the doors swing wide open. Always,” said Margaret.
According to statistics done by LA Times, South LA receives the least amount of funding per special needs child. There are lots of underprivileged families in the area, so the goal of BFF, is to educate these families with special needs children, the rights they are owed.
“The most common refrain that we hear all the time is ‘why didn’t the district tell me?’ People don’t know their child can be assessed and tested and be provided with tutoring, or that they can be placed in non-public schools or that they can get a lap top if needed. The basic, being that it’s the schools responsibility to educate your child and you don’t have to apologize that your child is having difficulties,” said Margaret.
BFF believes that a lot of families in the South L.A. aren’t aware of the tools and resources they are offered as opposed to families who live outside of South L.A. Since those families lack knowledge in regards to the services they are owed, they are hesitant to approach the school district. Margaret explained a story of an event that her and Greg McNair spoke at.
“There was a community get together at a local fire station and Greg and I were speaking. I said something like, ‘some of you out there have children who’s teachers are calling you about every day and you think that they’re just bad when in fact they may have some sort of emotional problem. They may have some type of disability that the school needs to address and get it assessed.’ So many folks were nodding their heads up and down,” she said.
To prevent more and more children from falling into this stereotype, BFF encourages proper testing of children to make sure that they do not have any type of disability. If a child is at-risk, there are other ways BFF can help, through other signature programs they operate.
They have two other programs Aspire Supplemental Education and At-Risk for Success. The Aspire Supplemental Education program is an intensive tutoring program, which assists students including special needs children. This program also offers SAT test prepping. At Risk for Success is a program designed to encourage self-sufficiency and teaches work ethics. The students are able to be in a small business environment where they are able to practice the actual principles they are learning in school in order to be a successful business owner. The signature programs have been really successful for BFF and the foundation says all programs have served a purpose.
“We’re really trying to provide folks with tools that they can go forward in a self sufficient way and not only better themselves, but hopefully stay in the community and help the community grow,” said Greg.
The foundation has operated under seven working members, some being Board members and has also had volunteers over the course of its existence. It has been a family foundation that has grown extensively and provided a family tradition of enhancing the importance of education.
“We’re doing the kind of work that our father wanted us to do. He was always talking about tradition. He was always talking about carrying it on in the family. We’re doing that. I think that my mom and dad would be so proud,” David said.
BFF has an upcoming event and exciting future endeavors. The foundation is striving to create a charter school apart of the Inglewood Unified School District in the near future. This school would be a home to all of their signature programs and uphold the educational model they have operated under.
“We’ve looked at a lot of education models throughout the country and we’re using models that we found in New York, models found in Houston, Texas and developed a comprehensive program that touches on all areas of education that students in our community need,” Greg said.
BFF will also be holding a special education workshop for parents on February 23, 2013. As the foundation continues to grow, it encourages volunteers to assist with their signature programs. If you are interested in volunteering, are a family with a special needs student who needs help, or a family of an at-risk child, you are encouraged to contact BFF at 323-275-1161 or visit their website at broomefamilyfoundation.org.