After decades of research and practice we know what works. When leaders in education, business, government and community organizations change the way they do business – aligning resources, building on existing high-quality supports and working together – we can improve outcomes for children and youth. Business partners play a critical role in supporting community efforts that create a prepared, innovative and competitive workforce.

How can nonprofits engage business more fully in efforts to improve all opportunities for families and youth?

For the largest impact, youth development practitioners must engage employers directly and meaningfully at the outset and throughout their efforts along the cradle to career continuum.

Corporate Voices for Working Families, in partnership with the Ready by 21 National Partnership, United Way Worldwide and Workforce Strategy Center, has just released Supporting the Education Pipeline: A Business Engagement Toolkit for Community-Based Organizations, which will assist community leaders in creating beneficial and sustainable partnerships with business by providing lessons on how to identify potential partners, make realistic goals, and how to set up partnerships for long-term success to ensure that all youth are ready for college, work and life.

The toolkit is organized by four activities:

  • Identify business leaders who will support your efforts
  • Educate business leaders about the needs in the community
  • Persuade business leaders to become involved
  • Activate business leaders in your efforts

This toolkit is designed to provide community leaders with resources to help them recruit, engage and develop ongoing relationships with businesses and business leaders in their communities. A companion website ( has been developed, which is a clearinghouse of tips, tools, resources and examples of techniques others in the education and workforce readiness fields have used to engage business. We encourage individuals to upload successful business engagement documents and strategies to the website.