Business leaders and educators share common goals and challenges; both manage large, complex operations and want to ensure that students graduate high school prepared with the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace or in further educational opportunities.  Collaboration between business and education leaders is imperative – these leaders should create meaningful, successful and long lasting partnerships to ensure that all youth are ready for college, work and life.

On Thursday, October 7, 2010, Corporate Voices for Working Families (Corporate Voices) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) held a webinar entitled, “Building Business and Education Partnerships Common Goals and Unique Strengths.”  The purpose of the webinar was to provide business and education leaders with reasons why they should partner and highlight the work of two leaders who have led successful private and public partnerships:  Alice Campbell, Senior Director, Global Community Relations at Baxter International Inc. (Baxter) and Dr. Jim Scales, Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools in Tennessee.

Baxter, a Corporate Voices Member Company, highlighted their Science@Work Program with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  Campbell explained the reason Baxter partnered with CPS,

“It is critical to meet needs . . . you can be a good neighbor in many different ways . . . we are trying to address the education gap, specifically in Chicago.”

Science@Work is a multi-year commitment to CPS and represents the largest corporate donation to science education in the District’s history.   It is intended to create a pipeline of students and teachers with an interest and passion for science, with a focus on biotechnology.  Campbell revealed during the webinar that since the launch of this education/business partnership:

  • 56,000 students in CPS received at least one biotechnology lesson (86% of the students are Latino or African American); and
  • Collectively, 649 teachers in 213 schools participated in the program.

This partnership is a win-win for both Baxter and CPS.  Baxter learned the following lessons from this partnership:

  • Communication between the two entities is essential and should happen regularly and often;
  • There needs to be budget accountability from both partners;
  • Working together to evaluate progress and continual improvement is essential; and
  • Employees are excited to participate.

Corporate Voices and AASA support building broader and sustainable business and education partnerships through the work of the Ready by 21® National Partnership.  Through this collaboration, Corporate Voices and AASA produced the “Common Goals Unique Strengths Education and Business Partnerships” focused specifically on helping business and education leaders build and sustain partnerships.

Ready by 21 is a set of strategies that helps communities improve the odds that all youth are ready for college, work and life.  Corporate Voices in particular challenges business leaders to work with Ready by 21 to ensure American businesses have the skilled and prepared workforce they need to advance their global competitiveness.  For more information on the tools and resources provided by Corporate Voices through our Ready by 21 work, please click here.

*Ready by 21 and the Ready by 21 Logo are registered trademarks of the Forum for Youth Investment.