Making Education Everyone’s Business: Three Studies of Successful Education Advocacy

Business leaders play a critical role in ensuring that our education systems enable young people to gain the skills, knowledge, and experiences they need to be successful in the current and future economy. Business voices can be powerful tools to help shape policy, champion programs, and advocate for greater coordination and alignment among the early childhood, K-12, higher education, and workforce systems. Yet despite the long history of interaction between the education and business sectors, relatively little research has examined how business organizations successfully advocate on behalf of education policy priorities.

Making Education Everyone’s Business: Three Studies of Successful Education Advocacy seeks to fill this gap. Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire and Marnie Kaplan of Bellwether Education conducted in-depth case studies of three business advocacy organizations: Colorado Succeeds, Metro Atlanta Chamber, and Washington Roundtable. These case studies include an analysis of each organization’s history, mission, current policy agenda, staffing, and financials, as well as interviews with each organization’s leaders, members, and partners. Three key lessons surfaced through the research, which are important for all organizations considering the potential of the business community to drive change in education. In particular, successful business advocacy organizations:

  1. Tailor their agendas and value propositions to meet specific, local needs
  2. Are strategic in how they leverage staff, external supports, and funding sources
  3. Leverage both collective and individual voices to advance their agendas

The full report offers a discussion of each of these themes and how they play out across the three organizations we profiled. In addition, you can read the in-depth case studies for each organization.

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