by Sheri Heiney, President & CEO of the Prescott Chamber of Commerce
Imagine if every business partnered with its local schools in some way. This would ideally address many of our educational needs, right? The answer is yes.
In today’s educational landscape, there is an ever-increasing need for every business to partner with local schools. Matters such as society ills, federal and state budget deficits and lack of real-world relevance, create endless opportunities for businesses to support local schools’ efforts to educate the future workforce and citizens.
Other than the reasoning of “businesses just should,” there are other important reasons why businesses should partner with schools.
Improved Community Image and Presence
One of the growing corporate buzzwords of today is corporate social responsibility, or CSR. CSR is a company’s sense of responsibility toward the community and environment (both ecological and social).
Harvard Business School research found that companies with higher corporate social responsibility practices outperform their counterparts over the long term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance. CSR is also an effective way to increase a company’s competitive advantage.
When companies decide to use their corporate social responsibility platforms to partner with schools, an increased presence of their company is created among students, parents, school staff and the community. This presence creates a lasting positive image, which in turn increases a company’s profits and competitive advantage.
Create A More Prepared Workforce
All students should graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life and be prepared to pursue the future of their choice.
Students tend to be highly receptive to receiving career education from individuals working in their fields. This can be done through businesses’ participation in school career days, field trips to business sites, shadowing and serving on school advisory boards. College and career education that includes hands-on exposure is highly beneficial to students.
Ideally, businesses provide hands-on workforce experience to local students. When students are afforded the opportunity to work in the fields of their choice, they are better prepared for their post-secondary experience. Businesses can assist with this by providing internships for students and hire students to work in their establishments as assistants and apprentices.
When students achieve their goals in education, everyone benefits. Business involvement helps to show relevance to students. The students are more motivated to get an education and more aware of how it correlates to success. There is evidence that links business involvement with fewer dropout rates. And when students see the relevance for pursuing a career in a specific industry, they are motivated to not only stay in school, but to do their best. This helps create positive growth within the community over the long term.
Businesses should be vested in education because of their need for a strong pool of local workers to choose from and consumers who can afford their products. There is a wealth of opportunities available for businesses to partner with their local schools. School and business partnerships create a win-win situation for schools, businesses and, most importantly, students.
For more information about the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, please visit prescott.org or call us at 928-445-2000 or 1-800-266-7534, or stop by the Visitor Information Center at 117 W. Goodwin St., Prescott, AZ 86303.