DHS Urban Area Security Initiative/Maryland Homeland Security Educational Alliance
In the years after 9-11, Maryland leaders recognized that the Mid-Atlantic region faced a critical shortage of skills homeland security and emergency preparedness professionals. In 2010, Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Maryland State Department of Education brought together Maryland counties to address the problem and form the Maryland Homeland Security Educational Alliance, which was charged with implementing a homeland security and emergency preparedness program at high schools across the state.
The Alliance brought together educators and first responders to collaborate on curriculum, teacher development, and special projects. The Alliance was fortunate to receive funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant program. These funds were put to use purchasing equipment and software used in the classroom, as well as for professional development of teachers. This grant also allowed the Alliance to contract with Profile Partners to manage and expand the program.
Profile Partners recognized that the Alliance needed tools – an infrastructure – that would allow the program to grow. First, we established a year-long calendar of meetings and meeting topics of common interest to educators and practitioners. This provided a forum for regular interaction and networking among members. Next, we developed a web site with information useful to students, parents, teachers, and professionals looking to engage with the Alliance.
Within several months, representatives from six Maryland school systems, local emergency responders, state-level emergency response agencies, and the Maryland State Department of Education were collaborating and sharing best practices. We then launched a state-wide teacher conference, where homeland security and emergency preparedness practitioners provided information for teachers to use in their classrooms. Profile Partners plans and executes this conference annually at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
More recently, Profile Partners’ focus has been on expanding teacher’s access to facilities, subject matter expertise, and partnerships, and on establishing ways to connect geographically dispersed teachers so they can learn from each other.
As of this writing, the program now serves school districts and emergency managers in 15+ counties across the state of Maryland, and continues to grow. Thousands of students are enrolled in the program, and approximately 5,000 have graduated since 2010 with credentials in homeland security.