America’s businesses are giving back to community schools for both philanthropic reasons and to help nurture future generations of employees and consumers. A Harvard Business School® report indicates individual companies give an estimated $3-4 billion to schools each year. But many are going a step further by engaging through partners-in-education programs with schools and educators to help strengthen the education system and improve student outcomes.
If your small business is looking for ways to invest in its community by partnering with local schools, you may want to keep reading. In addition to discussing the benefits to both businesses and schools, this e-newsletter offers ideas on engaging with local schools.
The benefits of school-business partnerships
- Reputation: Businesses that give back with monetary donations and volunteer time are viewed as good corporate citizens with a vested interest in community and future generations.
- Employee morale: Employees who are encouraged to volunteer through company-sponsored programs enjoy greater job satisfaction, are more engaged and have higher morale. This equates to increased profits and productivity.
- Future workforce: Providing knowledge through field trips and tours, internships, job shadowing opportunities and more give students an idea of what it takes to work for a company like yours. This experience helps prepare future workers to enter the workforce later on.
- Reciprocity: Partnerships are often mutually beneficial. For instance, a school may offer the use of its facilities for meetings or special events to small businesses with limited space. Or provide the opportunity for promotion to parents and staff by allowing literature displays and banners on school grounds.
If these benefits sound like a fit for your small business, here are some ideas to help you get your foot in the door:
- Speak to, mentor or offer internships to students: One of the top-cited deterrents to high school graduation is a lack of relevance between curriculum and the real world. Small-business owners can engage students through guest speaking, mentoring, internships or job shadowing to tie real-life examples to lesson plans. For example, a baker could discuss the science behind baking a cake. Or a manufacturer could relate math to fabrication. You can make it fun by providing branded giveaways to remember you by—perhaps a logo’d sportpack or Carabiner Highlighter.
- Be an advisor: Business owners and educators make a great team when it comes to collaborating on curriculum development. Entrepreneurs can consult with teachers on the skills needed from those entering the workforce. And teachers can hone in on these areas to better prepare learners for what will be expected of them in the real world.
- Teach the teachers: Keep educators on the forefront by sharing your skills. Does your small business offer professional development for its employees? Consider opening it up to teachers as well. Or offer to provide training in a skill your company is proficient in. For instance, a tech company could provide computer or software training. Present a certificate of completion for those who participate as a way of recognizing their achievement.
Partners-in-education programs can be mutually beneficial. Try one or all of these ideas to cultivate future generations of employees and customers. It’s a win for all.