For a man whose initial education ended at ninth grade, Philip Mann certainly had a distinguished career in the field.
Mann, who earned a bachelor’s from the University of Miami and a master’s in education from the University of Virginia after joining the Navy in 1948, spun off a career as a teacher of special needs students at Riviera Middle School in Southwest Miami-Dade into an entrepreneurial training program that helped residents of struggling communities to establish businesses.
Mann, a professor and administrator at the University of Miami, Florida International University, Florida Memorial University and, lastly at Barry University until his death at 82 on May 9, formed the Entrepreneurial Institute in 1980.
Mann, who arrived by bus alone in Miami from his Brooklyn birthplace at age 14, and worked odd jobs at the Shore Club in Miami Beach, was inspired to create the entrepreneurial program after the May 1980 McDuffie riots in Miami.
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His goal was to reduce the economic disparity between low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and the overall community through business development. While at Florida Memorial in 2005, Mann, who lived in Weston, went on the road, turning an 18-wheeler tractor trailer into an Economic Development Mobile Unit. This way, Mann could bring all of his know-how directly to the residents who could learn about operating licenses, taxes, personal finance, home ownership and entrepreneurship.
“The great thing is I don’t have to send people to too many places,” Mann said in a 2005 Miami Herald article. Two months after the mobile unit visited Overtown, Liberty City, Homestead, Opa-locka and Miami Gardens, Mann had already counseled more than 800 hopefuls. “I don’t see 400 people in the entire year at my office” at FMU, he said at the time.
At Barry, Mann, who also was an exhibited artist for his oil paintings of the Everglades, volunteered at the Homestead Correctional Institution to help incarcerated women learn about business. He would help more than 100 of these women find jobs and become business owners.
Mann’s mantra: “Why not?”
On June 30, Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jean Monestime and fellow commissioners honored Mann for his service to the community.
Said daughter Lisa Mann: “My father … taught us to be strong but forgiving. He also instilled a sense of gratitude and generosity for all the opportunities afforded to us. He had a very soft and giving heart that many had come to know. I only hope we can give back just a portion of what he has given to so many during his lifetime. Now that he is gone it is time for all of us to continue the legacy.”
In addition to his daughter, Mann is survived by his wife Ruth, son Jeffrey Mann, daughter Brenda Zalka, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and his sister Dorothy Paul. Services were held.
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