Business Education Alliance
Formed in 2015, the Greater Wichita Partnership aligns resources and focuses the business community on common strategies that cultivate the economic environment and fast-forward growth in south-central Kansas. Among the Partnership’s six key priorities is to create a seamless partnership between business and education that produces a globally competitive workforce for the region. To fulfill this mission, the Partnership provides support to the Business & Education Alliance (BEA), a group focused on enhancing educational attainment and workforce development.
The BEA works to achieve this vision by aligning the education and business communities, which are comprised of business champions, public and private school districts, nonprofits and regional colleges and universities.
In 2015, the BEA commissioned two studies to determine the approach of the alliance’s work. The first study, in response to employers, identified substantive proof that non-cognitive or “soft” skills were lacking in students, identifying the need to improve these skills of area students. The second study, commissioned on behalf of the Wichita Community Foundation, identified that literacy is critical to a student’s future success. Recommendations from both studies were drives in defining programs lead, convened and supported by the BEA to positively impact the greater Wichita region’s future workforce. Current programs include:
Read to Succeed – Developed and implemented by the United Way of the Plains, Read to Succeed assists third-grade readers as they transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Promoted by the BEA, this program offers volunteers the chance to listen – and assist when needed – to a third-grader whose reading scores suggest they additional need one-on-one assistance.
Principal for a Day – Beginning in 2016, the BEA partnered with area school districts to increase business leader involvement in schools through the Principal for a Day experience. In conjunction with American Education Week, this program allows leaders to experience first-hand what the administration, teachers, and students are involved in on a day-to-day basis.
Mock Job Interview Day – In an effort to teach soft skills directly, the BEA in collaboration with Workforce Alliance initiated Mock Job Interview Day. Area school districts send a select group of students to a two-hour workshop to learn essential skills on interviewing; students then experience a mock interview with a business professional.
Youth Employment Project – Work experience opportunities provide exposure to the workplace, instill leadership and soft-skills, and prepare young adults for success in the local, regional, and global economy. Developed and implemented by Workforce Alliance and promoted by the BEA, this program assists young adults in finding part-time or temporary summer job positions. Service to youth through the YEP includes pre-employment career exploration and job preparation workshops such as resume creation, preparing for interviews and education in soft skills.
Current BEA programming has accelerated educational attainment and workforce development within the region. To catalyze future efforts, while keeping current initiatives underway, the BEA recently realigned its strategies to look holistically at the “cradle-to-career” continuum, forming three working groups: Pre-K – 3rd grade, Middle school/high school and Post-secondary (certificates and above).
To learn more about the Greater Wichita Partnership, or the Business & Education Alliance, visit greaterwichitapartnership.org.
Meetings - The Business & Education Alliance typically meets from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at the Greater Wichita Partnership offices at 505 E. Douglas Avenue, Wichita, KS 67202. For specific questions related to BEA, or to get on the mailing list, please contact Heather Denker at firstname.lastname@example.org.