Business engagement in education - at any level - can voice what skills students will need to succeed in the 21st Century workforce and help put them on track to a successful future. Chambers of Commerce have facilitated partnerships with high schools, community and trade colleges and industry leaders to provide access to education, training and work-based learning opportunities that engage K-12 students and prepare them for high-skill, high-wage employment in fulfilling careers of their choice. From classroom projects to job shadowing to competitions, chambers have helped businesses bring a real-world perspective to community schools.
- ACCE Case Study: Work-Based Learning: A Tool for Student Success – an in-depth exploration on how three chambers are using interactive techniques, such as project-based learning, to provide deeper learning opportunities to students.
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber (La.) leads BRAIN, the Baton Rouge Area Intern Network, which seeks to increase the number of internships available to students to better expose students to the various job opportunities in the region. BRAIN has developed in internship job board and various webpages that provide information, tools and resources for both companies and students.
- The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia urged members of the Philadelphia City Council’s Education Committee to support the expansion of career and technical education (CTE) programs at city schools. Patty Day, a project manager at the chamber - and current EAD fellow - said, “CTE is an important element of the educational system which can prepare students for in-demand jobs that are critical to ensuring we have a diverse workforce to fuel growth in our regional economy.”
- Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to create the Internship Collaborative. The collaborative runs Intern Hub, a free internship portal for students, employers, and career counselors throughout Massachusetts.
- Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce (R.I.) collaborates with the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority and several other partners to expand the number of internships available to students through bRIgde, a program that works to bridge jobs and talent for employers and offers an online internship website. The program is also outlined in Rhode Island’s 2014 Legislative Action Plan Rhode to Work.
- INSPIRE Sheboygan County was founded in 2013 as an outgrowth of the Business Education Partnership committee of the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce (Wis.). INSPIRE Sheboygan County is funded solely by its member employers and school districts. This collaboration between area employers and schools offers powerful career exploration and discovery tools that connect young people to their best career options and employers to their future workforce.
- Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Pa.) hosts Career Connect, the only local resource for students looking to connect with the Chamber’s member businesses for job shadowing, mentorships, and internships.
- Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce trains and certifies young adults to become work-ready through its LA Youth at Work program, which includes a multi-step process that seeks to jumpstart the future careers for L.A. area youth. The program serves several thousand youth each year through its Job Skills Workshops. The chamber then connects students who have successfully completed a workshop and mock interview process to internship and job opportunities in the region.
- Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce (Okla.) launched Tulsa’s Young Professionals, an organization that works to attract and retain young talent in Tulsa, and Intern In Tulsa, an online portal to engage students and employers in internship opportunities.
- ACCE Case Study: Paving Pathways to College and Career – an in-depth exploration on how four chambers create partnerships to bridge education and business communities in order to prepare students for success in the workforce.
- Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s (N.C.) Charlotte Works program has an online career exploration tool. The tool represents the five fastest growing industries in Charlotte and provides detailed profile of the work, salary range, and skills and education needed for each.
- The Dallas Regional Chamber has worked with regional partners who serve their business community, and local students, to improve educational outcomes in order to sustain a highly trained workforce for the future. In order to address the issue at hand, the Dallas Regional Chamber created a “Pick Your Path” tool that helps students and parents understand the Texas Foundation High School Program and the Endorsement options, as well as the choices and responsibilities students have. Additionally, they also created a “Follow Your Pipeline” tool to guide students in planning their education and career pathway as they pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Careers. See also the Workplace Roundtables Outcomes Report here.
- Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce's (Mich.) TeenQuest service is a free afterschool pre-employment and leadership training program. The program was a finalist for ACCE's 2015 Regional Innovation Award.
- JAX Chamber (Fla.) champions various Career Academies that focus on providing students with the technical skills needed in the area’s most high demand industries.
- Kingsport Chamber (Tenn.) is a primary partner in organizing annual 8th and 11th Grade Career Expos. The expos include discussions with area businesses and colleges about career choices, presentations on professional development, and even a real-time, interactive “Game of Life.”
- Michigan West Coast Chamber partners with area high schools and businesses to produce various Future Prep programs, aimed at assisting high school students in exploring careers in the community.
- Future Prep Connections pairs students from seven school districts and six local companies in a career exploration deep dive.
- Future Prep Academy takes the Connections program one step further, giving selected students hand’s on experience alongside the opportunity to earn high school credit and articulated college credit.
- Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (Ohio), in collaboration with community partners and a local university, founded the Dayton Regional STEM School, catering to grades 9-12.
- Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce (Va.) created an affiliate organization FredTech, focused on attracting and supporting technology businesses to the region. FredTech supports various programs for students through its STEM 16 program.
- Educator Exchange is an event that connects STEM educators and businesses through a “Pitch your Program” session, matching educator needs with business resources, and a speed networking session.
- Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce (Ohio) has helped pioneer a regional effort to recognize the importance of STEM education as an archway to Ohio’s economic success.
- Greater Spokane Incorporated (Wash.) houses Spokane STEM, a community partnership focused on transforming how STEM is taught in the classroom, emphasizing work-based learning for students and providing the supports necessary for teachers.
- The Orange County Business Council (Calif.) published a STEM workforce report outlining the increasing importance of growing STEM in the Orange County economy through education and career pathways.
- TwinWest Chamber of Commerce (N.M.) hosts a middle school STEM Summit, featuring a trade show atmosphere where area businesses provide interactive demonstrations to promote student interest in STEM classes and careers.
Teaching the Teachers: Support for Educators
- ACCE Case Study: Empowering Educators to Enable Deeper Learning – an in-depth exploration on how four chambers are helping teachers tie academics to 21st century jobs.
- Kentucky Chamber of Commerce convenes a Leadership Institute for School Principles to provide principles with the high-level training necessary to lead their schools, staff, and students toward success.
- Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce’s (Wis.) Institute for Educators is a week-long academy for teachers focused on one chosen course of study. Teachers can earn 1, 2, or 3 graduate credits from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh by completing the academy.
- Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s (N.H.) Educator Leadership is a 7-session course for educators to gain the knowledge necessary to better prepare students for careers in high growth industries. Each session focuses on a new industry with presentations by business leaders through lectures and on-site visits.
- Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce (Ky.) organizes an annual Teacher Academy that convenes educators and local businesses to address the basic soft skills students need to successfully enter the workforce.
Engaging Members to Support K-12 Education
- Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce (Va.), a 2014 Chamber of the Year finalist, launched a capital campaign to fund the implementation of "The Leader in Me" initiative in city and county school districts. The curriculum, based on Dr. Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will prepare the future workforce by teaching children about leadership, accountability and teamwork - all integral skills for talent development.
- The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce (Tenn.) launched Thrive 2055 as a strategic visioning initiative to engage the people of the Chattanooga region in creating an action plan to make the most of their economic opportunities while preserving what they love about their home communities. After an intensive public engagement process, four regional priorities were defined: economic development, education, transportation, and the protection of the region's natural treasures. Thrive 2055 determined that by keeping these priorities in balance the people of the region would always live healthy, fulfilled lives with access to the wealth of natural and cultural resources.
- Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce (Minn.) created the Student Membership Program, where select high school seniors are treated as real members of the chamber and learn how to network, engage, and do business. A committee of chamber members runs the program and selects the student participants. Other members are encouraged to host students at job shadows and connect with them at membership events.
- Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (Texas) relies on member volunteers to provide hands on participation in their College Ready Now Programs. Members can volunteer with:
- Financial Aid Saturdays – assist students and parents in understanding and filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Austin Partners in Education - serve as a college readiness mentor or tutor students for their entrance exams
- The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce (Ala.) has created a partnership with The Schools Foundation, and together they hold an annual State of the Schools event to bring together the business community and K12 education partners. Business leaders usually hear from the three local superintendents over breakfast and it is a sold out event. In order to continue a strong partnership between business and education, they make sure to mix education partners in with the business tables to further the dialog. The Chamber was also profiled on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Achieving Tomorrow.org website which highlights the importance high standards play in K-12 education to prepare students for life after high school.
- Lodi District Chamber of Commerce (Calif.) created an economic visioning project called “Vision 2020," and its main goal is to increase community economic improvement for all people living in Lodi County. One way Lodi has tackled this problem is by implementing the Mamas and Papas elementary after school program, which is meant to help “poor readers” in the 3rd grade read at grade level. By helping these young students read at a young age, these Mamas and Papas are sharing life principles like personal responsibility, encouragement, being a positive role model, demonstrating character building values. Check out the Mamas and Papas flyer here.
- Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Education Task Force selected four local education nonprofit organizations to partner with and encourages members to volunteer and support them.
- Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce (Ohio) sponsors the Think Manufacturing Student Expo which helps local students and parents learn about rewarding opportunities in manufacturing, including internships and job training programs.
- Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) created the Corporate Volunteers Program, which pairs K-2nd grade students with business and community volunteers to work on reading and language skills. During the 2013-14 school year, 57 businesses and organizations provided 267 volunteers to 269 students.
Articles & Online Resources
- What Happens to Students Who Take Community College "Dual Enrollment Courses in High School? by John Fink, Davis Jenkins, and Takeshi Yanagiura (2017).
- High Hopes and Harsh Realities: The Real Challenges to Building a Diverse Teacher Workforce - Report from the Brookings Institution states that minority students make up nearly half of all public school students, yet minority teachers make up just 18 percent of the teacher workforce. Addressing this minority teacher shortfall must be a long-term policy goal. (August 2016)
- A High Profile Community Event for the Pursuit of Knowledge, by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Fall 2015) - The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce (Conn.) runs a city-wide science fair.
- Back to School, by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Summer 2014) - How One Chamber Changed a School System—and Students’ Lives through this grant-funded charter school initiative.
- Chambers for Deeper Learning, by Jessie Azrilian, Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2014) - Businesses are joining the push for more challenging education standards.
- The Kentucky Model, by Jessie Azrilian, Chamber Executive magazine (Winter 2014) - Business and Education Unite to Prepare Students for College and Career Success
- Education and the Economy: Boosting Local, State, and National Economies by Improving High School Graduation Rates - Data on the economic benefit of high school completion broken down by state and 220 MSAs - from the Alliance for Excellent Education.
- Harvard Business School Published Three Reports on the Role of Business in PK-12 Education:
Convention & Seminar Resources
- Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies from the Field - Handout from presentation at the 2015 ACCE Annual Convention by Andrew Davis, Legislative Director, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (Wis.); Richard Dayoub, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce (Texas); Greg Laposa, Project Manager, St. Louis Regional Chamber
- Transforming High Schools: Ford Next Generation Learning Communities - Presentation handout from Cheryl Carrier, Executive Director, and Richard Delano, National Team, Ford Next Generation Learning, from the 2015 ACCE Annual Convention
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| K-12 EducationLast Updated: 10/19/2017