Five Ideas for School Leaders to Engage Their Business Communities

By Joetta Sack-Min

Working with local business and community leaders helps schools and the businesses better prepare students for their careers, plus it helps shore up crucial support for public education in the communities

Successful schools should engage families and communities in support of students, according to the Learning First Alliance’s Elements of Success: 10 Million Speak on Schools That Work. A solid body of research shows that involving families and community members in important roles improves student learning and development, as well as strengthens the capacity of teachers and schools.

So what are some ways schools can do this? In a recent meeting with business partners, we solicited these practical ideas:

  • In each community, ask business leaders to identify the top unfilled jobs and high-growth career opportunities, then ask them to help build awareness about these opportunities with students and their families;
  • Build partnerships with local pharmacies and health providers to provide needed health services, such as immunizations, screenings and clinic supplies;
  • Establish business partnerships to engage parents and PTAs by sponsoring events that allow businesses to showcase products and ongoing formal and informal partnerships;
  • Ask employers to allow opportunities for their employees—parents and nonparents—to participate in advocacy for their schools;
  • Ask employers to help bridge the digital divide by find ways to provide digital capacity to either a school or community location for students who do not have access to internet or devices.

We must continue to forge new bonds where schools and employers understand each other’s needs and understand the benefits for students to experience the modern work environment. We know that better school and business collaborations can have a profound impact of reaching our mutual goals. These ideas are part of a larger set of ideas found in our report, “Community in Education: Bringing Schools and Businesses Together.”

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