Business & Education Partnerships

Business and education partnerships are cooperative relationships between schools and local businesses that are formed for a variety of reasons. Originally started as one-to-one relationships between a single business and a single school, business and education partnerships have expanded to include multi-agency collaborations (Lankard, 1995, p. 1).

Partnerships may follow any of the following three processes:

  • Philanthropic Process: Businesses provide resources, such as computers or classroom materials, to schools.
  • Commerce Process: Schools provide resources, such as classrooms and instructors for training employees, to businesses.
  • Partnership Process: Businesses and schools provide resources to each other in a reciprocal relationship (The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships, 2002, p. 9).

Business and education partnerships vary depending on the needs and purposes they are trying to fulfill. Lankard (1995, pp. 1-2) described three types of partnerships:

  • One-to-one Partnership: an agreement between one school and one business. The business may provide material incentives and resources as well as opportunities for students to learn real-life skills to the school, or the school may provide services such as basic or technical training to employees of the business
  • Multiservice Cooperative Agreement: an agreement in which several agencies establish partnerships with a number of schools typically for community-wide initiatives such as improving school quality or providing mentoring or apprenticeships.
  • Comprehensive Collaborative: the most sophisticated and fully developed partnership which is broad-based, strategically planned, committed for the long-term, and features multiple goals, strategies, relationships, services, and activities (Clark, 1992, cited in Lankard, 1995, p. 2).

"Business and education partnership programs can encompass a wide variety of activities including staff development, curriculum development, policy development, instructional development, guidance, mentoring, tutoring, incentives and awards" (The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships, 2004, p. 2). Business and education partnerships fall into four main categories (Lankard, 1995, pp. 3-5):

  1. Classroom Teaching and Learning: These types of partnerships may focus on helping teachers acquire knowledge and skills such as those related to new technologies. Teachers benefit by improving their knowledge and teaching strategies, by applying work experiences to classroom instruction, and by becoming change agents with the school system. Businesses benefit by acquiring greater knowledge and appreciation for teachers and the teaching profession.
  2. Career and Technical (Vocational) Education Program Development: Companies establish collaborative relationships with local schools and colleges to provide training for students and/or employees. For example, a car manufacturer or dealership that partners with a high school career and technical education center may supply material resources such as cars, parts, and tools, while the center provides the physical space for automotive service classes. Training materials and instructor training may be developed jointly.
  1. Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships are composed of (a) sequenced on-the-job training at work sites and (b) related classroom instruction that may include remediation. A common arrangement is for the business to provide on-the-job training and advancement opportunities for apprentices who attend related instruction classes at a school or community college. Apprenticeships recognized by state and federal Departments of Labor specify the length of the apprenticeship, the work processes learned on the job, and the content of the related classroom instruction.
  1. Work Experience Programs: A type of partnership where the business may provide site visits, internships, workplace or union mentors, or similar opportunities to students who wish to learn more about a business or enterprise.

Business and education partnerships benefit both partners in the following ways (National Association of Partners in Education, 2000, cited in The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships, 2002, p. 8):

Human Capital Development

  • Boosting employee morale through work on altruistic issues
  • Enhancing and supporting employee recruitment and retention
  • Preparing future employees for the challenges of the world of work
  • Larger recruitment pools

Community Development

  • Creating better schools to contribute to the economic health of the community
  • Improving the academic achievement of students
  • Providing a worthwhile outlet for corporate philanthropy

Student Achievement

  • Boosting student test scores
  • Contributing to overall student achievement
  • Enhancing the student experience

Financial Impact

  • Increasing revenue
  • Higher profitability
  • Building customer loyalty
  • Increased publicity
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Providing a revenue stream to schools"

In 2000, nearly 70% of all school districts reportedly engaged in some form of business partnership – an increase of 35% since 1990 (National Association of Partners in Education, Inc., 2000, cited in The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships, 2002, p. 4). It is anticipated that the number of business-education partnerships will continue to grow.


Abilities Work
Florida's Employment First Initiative has developed the Florida Abilities Work Web Portal and Helpdesk to help employers find qualified candidates with disabilities who are ready and able to work in their communities and provide them with information that would help with their hiring decisions. The web portal offers employment information for both employers and job seekers.

A Business-Community (ABC) School Program (pdf)
In 2006 the Florida Legislature created A Business-Community (ABC) School Program "to encourage the formation of partnerships between business and education, to reduce school and classroom overcrowding throughout the state, to offset the high costs of educational facilities construction, and to use due diligence and sound business practices in using available educational space." ABC Schools offer instruction to students from kindergarten through third grade at a business site. "The school board provides the appropriate instructional, support, and administrative staff and textbooks, materials, and supplies while the host business provides the appropriate types of space for operating the school."

Employment First Initiative
Florida became an Employment First state by Executive Order in October, 2013. Employment First is both a philosophy and policy. It means that employment is the first option for all individuals, including those with significant disabilities.


Lankard, B.A. (1995). Business-education partnerships. (ERIC Digest No. 156). Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education.

The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships. (2002, September). Guiding principles for business and school partnerships. Retrieved from /files/download/cd99ef0212dca73

The Council for Corporate and School Partnerships. (2004, February). A how-to guide for school-business partnerships. Retrieved from