KnowledgeWorks early college high schools and competency-based schools get students ready for college and career. When students have the ability to earn industry credentials in career pathways relevant to their community, it opens the door for well-paying, in-demand jobs after school. It is through partnerships with community organizations that we make the learning experience more impactful.
During the planning phase of each school, we work with a team of business, community and educators – teachers and principals – to jointly identify and analyze of local economic development trends and needs. We then work with local business and community leaders to recognize the career pathways and job skills that will most rapidly advance the region. Matching the needs of a community with high school pathways and credentials creates a pipeline of future employees for local businesses. By involving local business in school design, we create a range of real-world learning experiences for students, both within the classroom and in the broader community.
Creating successful partnerships
Over the years, several themes have emerged from the most successful partnerships at play in KnowledgeWorks schools:
- Authentic partnerships take time – time to listen, learn and grow together. A partnership is a relationship.
- Creative practices emerge when both the school and the partner come to the table with the attitude of “what’s in it for them,” not just “what’s in it for me.”
- Just two or three strong partners can change the life of a school.
- The deepest partnerships are not about incentives or award dinners – although those have their place in any organization. Deep school-business-higher education-community partnerships are about teaching and learning, mapping out real-world lessons and performance assessments and engaging with students.
- Partners trust and respect each other. This mutual respect creates space for creativity and new ideas, which, in turn, provide amazing experiences for students.
- Shared partnership shifts perceptions about the school, its students, businesses and the community. When partners sit side-by-side, it gives authenticity to the real-world lessons undertaken in class.
Read about examples of successful school school-business partnerships:
- Hands-on learning with community partners in Birmingham, Alabama
- Supporting STEM with business partners in Marysville, Ohio