Based in San Bernardino, California, the Provisional Accelerated Learning (PAL) Center and Charter Academy is an adult education community center, as well as an accredited charter school for students grades 6-12. They were looking for expense management software and came across Bento for Business, a simpler solution.
A Vision to Encourage High-School Completion
The PAL Center was founded in 1984 by Dr. Mildred Henry, a renowned African-American educator and community advocate whose goal was to increase high school diploma attainment and college access for her community. Dr. Henry was the daughter of a teacher in southern Arkansas, where opportunities for black people were limited. Her parents pushed for all four of their children to go to college; all now have master’s degrees and two have doctorates.
Dr. Henry’s degree is in education, and she was the first African-American to receive tenure in the School of Education at California State University – San Bernardino. She was also the first African-American to become a full professor there as well as its first African-American professor emerita. In addition, the San Bernardino City Unified School District named a new school the Dr. Mildred Dalton Henry Elementary School to honor her contributions to education and the community.
Because of her education and work, Dr. Henry knew where there were educational gaps in her community. When she established the PAL Center, its initial program was the PAL Adult High School. It offers high school completion programs and GED test preparation programs for people over age 18. In 2000, PAL expanded its programming to reach at-risk youth before they dropped out. It formed the PAL Charter Academy, the first accredited charter school in the San Bernardino Unified School District. The program proved successful enough that it added a middle-school program in 2018. Dr. Henry has always advised women of color who are thinking of starting a nonprofit to “Never give up, no matter what roadblocks stand in your way.”
In 2004, Dr. Henry retired and passed the agency’s legacy and torch to Dwaine Radden Sr., the first African-American male CEO to head the school and organization.
In addition to the school programs, PAL operates Upward Bound, a program to help low-income high school students at San Bernardino High School access SAT prep classes and go on college tours. The organization has 48 employees, both teachers and administrators.
Finding Expense Management Software
Outside of the office, PAL has two main areas where employees need to spend money: classroom supplies and field trips. Tammie Jackson, PAL Center’s business manager, has worked with PAL for 31 years. She was looking for a tool that would provide the center with the controls they center needed while making it easier for teachers to take care of their expenditures. After all, the responsibility for managing a group of teenagers on a college tour is huge. Jackson didn’t want to distract the teachers from their primary work.
While looking for expense management software, she came across Bento for Business. “Before Bento, we were dealing with petty cash, and it was a nightmare,” she says. “Bento makes it simple. It’s so efficient. I can log in and see who bought what.”
They have 48 employees (teachers and school administrators) and three different programs that are each assigned a card. When they need to buy supplies or make purchases on-the-go, the Bento cards make the process convenient and manageable for both teaching staff and the business office..
Making a Difference to San Bernardino’s Youth
PCA has two campuses. The school’s main campus is in Muscoy, a rural unincorporated area of San Bernardino County. PCA Muscoy’s campus is home to over 250 students and parents. The second campus is located in the heart of the City of San Bernardino and serves over 150 students who come from all areas of the Inland Empire. Most are in search of an opportunity to recover credits and graduate from high school. Others come to embrace the small classroom sizes, one-on-one instruction, and family-like educational environment that PCA provides.
The PAL Charter Academy’s CEO, Dwaine Radden, Sr., says, “We have taken a 21st-century approach to help us curtail our academic gaps and improve test scores. We have invested in technology, integrated testing curriculum into student’s classes and schedules, and partnered with programs that can provide our students with support.”
In addition to the customized Independent study approach to education, the school offers all the benefits and opportunities of a traditional setting. These include, but are not limited to College prep, CTE classes, CIF sports, Concurrent enrollment with a Community College, Grad-nite, Prom, AVID, College Expos and visits, Mock Trial, Accelerated classes, vocational training, student transportation, and Adult High School. The PAL Center also has an Upward Bound program that provides college preparation services and training to 65 students at San Bernardino High School and the PAL Academy.
The Muscoy campus is currently installing a football field, soccer field, and indoor gymnasium to support their sports program for the students and community.
We’re really impressed at the work that PAL Center does and happy to be a small part of its success. We know that good expense management software helps nonprofits take their missions farther.
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