Higher education can be very expensive for students. Often, students are forced to take out large loans to cover their educational expenses. Fortunately, many businesses have begun to offer scholarships and tuition assistance to their employees. Rusty Tweed, a business owner and philanthropist, explains 8 ways in which businesses can give back to the community through educational assistance.
1. Scholarship Funds
Many business owners like Rusty Tweed have founded scholarships for students at all educational levels. When business owners have the ability to endow their own scholarships, they can choose the criteria by which the recipients are selected. They can target their scholarship to a particular subject or interest group. This gives them the greatest flexibility to put their wealth to work for the good of the community.
Prosperous business owners also contribute to the endowments of various colleges and universities. Companies that are owned by alumni are the most likely to contribute, but funding an endowment is prestigious. Individual donors can also fund department chairs and prominent professors. These respected professionals will help students achieve great things in their future careers.
3. Industry Partnerships
In today’s educational system, some business leaders are unhappy with the skill set of recent graduates. Higher education is not keeping up with the business world, producing students who are not ready for today’s challenges. Since businesses need recent graduates to be ready to work right away, some companies have begun public-private partnerships to support career-based learning.
In 2011, IBM founded its Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools or P-TECH. This new education model blends technical and career skills and emphasizes STEM skills. The program blends high school with two years of community college, giving students a high school diploma and a community college associate degree when they graduate. Many of these students will receive job offers from technology companies like IBM.
4. Increasing Use of Technology
Businesses can also help institutes of higher education by teaching the use of new technologies. Understanding how businesses use these new methods can lead students to greater success in the field after graduation. Universities may receive financial or personal support for their technology initiatives.
5. Remote Learning in the Cloud
Partnerships with business schools have produced innovative results. Business schools around the world have created online options for their students, helping them gain knowledge that they would not receive without extensive experience in another country. This technology enables colleges and universities to reach remote or underprivileged students who may have a great deal to offer today’s workforce but in the past were not able to access an education.
6. Tuition Assistance
In addition to scholarships, many employers are beginning to offer tuition assistance to their workers. Fast-food giant McDonald’s and the coffee chain Starbucks have two examples of this program. This can help to encourage students to finish their degrees, leading to a more educated workforce and more prosperous life for the student.
Another company that invests heavily in employee tuition assistance is Cigna, a health insurance firm. Cigna believes that putting more money into its workforce in terms of education pays off down the road.
7. Other Forms of Support
Corporate partners can also make other small but measurable contributions to students’ futures. Some universities have programs that help their underprivileged students access education. Going beyond scholarships and tuition assistance, these programs cover costs like textbooks and public transit cards. Since many students are struggling financially, these supports are small in dollar amounts but have a large impact.
8. Learning Coaches
Businesses can also put learning coach programs into effect. These coaches have the effect of increasing the public’s access to higher education. Career mentorship is important to future success, and many businesses have started programs that are aimed at supporting a student’s future.
It is then hoped that the student will become part of the company’s workforce, though this does not always work out. Businesses need to be committed to the concept of bettering the community even when it does not directly benefit their company.
Strengthening the Community
By supporting college students, businesses are able to make a difference in the world. Fostering the education of tomorrow’s leaders is a worthy pursuit and many businesses have taken on this challenge.
Scholarships are the most popular way to encourage students to graduate, but other forms of support are also useful. Partnerships between schools and corporations can help to encourage the formation of a skilled workforce. Career mentors help students arrange their education to better their job prospects after college.
Rusty Tweed believes that all business owners should consider contributing to higher education. Whether they are interested in supporting a few individual students or endowing a program of their own, there are many possibilities of how a company can get involved for the greater good.