Partners in Education: The Critical Role of the Business Community

Tim Cairl is the Director of Education Policy at The Metro Atlanta Chamber, and a member of Learn4Life’s Core Team.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) has been engaging the business community in education and workforce development for many years. Our commitment to our schools has changed during that time from a sponsorship and advisory role to a much more interactive and forward-thinking one. Many businesses have sponsored local events, and some leaders even hold positions on advisory boards or have become advocates for their local schools and districts.

The Metro Chamber has been in existence for over 160 years, and what we’ve learned in that time has allowed us to refocus our efforts in education and workforce in a much more directed way. Preparing our students for college and career is no longer about pushing our high school graduates in post-secondary programs. In today’s global, interactive economy, our students need access to skills training and knowledge early on in their education, and our parents need support from birth through post-secondary in ensuring those students’ success.

Business partnerships have a role to play in our education system. By collaborative interaction that develops modern curriculum and supports innovative technology and delivery techniques, businesses can smartly invest in these strategies both directly and through great community partnerships that support our schools, and particularly those students and families that are the most challenged.

Establishing Learn4Life in metro Atlanta has been a monumental achievement in connecting business partners, post-secondary institutions, and philanthropic organizations with local school districts to take a hard look at programs, outcomes, and the “work” of school partnerships. MAC and our Learn4Life partners understand that real leadership in education and workforce development requires a long-view that’s focused on process and outcomes and recognizes the great local talent and options that are available to some of our students. These opportunities need adequate resources and support to scale across the region and show measurable improvement in advancing education achievement.

MAC embraces the efforts of Learn4Life and participates in the collective action work on many levels because we understand that Learn4Life’s mission matches our own mission for a vibrant, prosperous region where every family, every student, and every school has the opportunity and resources they need to succeed and thrive.