Educational partnerships

Making investments to improve our region’s talent pool

Making wise investments is the hallmark of any successful business organization and the evidence is clear: the smartest investment of all is securing an exceptional talent pool for your company.

We are learning that the most successful regions in the country are focusing their talent development efforts on collective strategic partnerships with businesses, school districts and higher education institutions to enhance the educational pipeline. Regional economic improvement occurs when business leaders join forces with K-12 and higher education leaders to implement strategies to achieve systemic improvement in meeting the demands for an educated and well-prepared workforce.

Recent initiatives to transform Akron Public Schools and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District show great promise for talent development in Northeast Ohio.

Under the leadership of Superintendent David James, Akron Public Schools will join a national network of Next Generation Learning Communities supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund to transform traditional high schools into career-themed academies to better prepare students for college and professional success in today’s competitive, global economy.

Kent State University is pleased to partner with Akron Public Schools to establish an innovative design learning college and career academy within one of Akron’s 10 high schools. Kent State has long been a leader in fields that advance design thinking, which is used to solve complex problems and create desirable solutions. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it is solution-focused and action oriented toward creating a preferred future, regardless of the task at hand. Design thinking is what separates successful companies and agencies from those that often languish and fail. Students in Akron Public Schools will benefit from this solutions-oriented thinking — design thinking — that embraces both the art and science of design.

Kent State University is also excited to join forces with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s effort to become a partner with the national nonprofit, Say Yes to Education, that promises the full cost of tuition to any in-state public college or university, regardless of family income. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District, under the leadership of CEO Eric Gordon, is poised to become a part of this transformational program that provides not only tuition support to a post-secondary institution, but also offers support services to reach the goal of entry and success in college.

Both of these transformational initiatives will require an “all-in” approach by the region’s leadership, including major business leaders. Leaders in business and education, as well as leaders in local nonprofit organizations, must invest in these promising opportunities. Regions thrive when there is a deep commitment to the value of collective impact in improving educational attainment for all.

From pre-K – 12 to post-secondary education, the workforce and beyond, if we can create a seamless and supportive educational environment, our region benefits with better graduates and better employees. There is no better investment in your talent pool than to join in collective movements that transform a region through fundamental support of a strong educational pipeline.

Beverly Warren, president of Kent State University, oversees one of the nation’s largest university systems as Kent State’s eight campuses provide more than 300 academic programs to more than 41,000 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout Ohio and the nation, and from more than 100 countries.