M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 29

Aligned Pathways: Fostering Strategic Business Engagement in Education

Olga Berlinsky



There is an education crisis in America that affects students, families, and ultimately, businesses. A major proportion of US school children lacks proficiency in basic reading and math, and many students drop out of high school or are poorly prepared for college. Businesses that seek to employ American workers will face severe difficulties – by 2018, there will be an estimated shortage of 3 million jobs in the American economy, where the employer needs will not match the skills of the local workforce. Businesses recognize this problem and many of them see the need to address it: education is the #1 social issue in which companies believe they must play a role, and they donate an estimated $4 billion each year to the sector. But they face many barriers when they try to engage – they do not understand the needs of the education sector, they struggle to form cross-sector partnerships, and they do not know what impact looks like. Therefore, they often reach for low-hanging fruit with basic, shallow initiatives that are easy to measure and easy to market. Doing so prevents businesses from effectively leveraging their unique capabilities and competencies to truly make a dent in the education crisis.

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