By Don Guenther, VP of Business Development
Did you know that 60 percent of students test as “not ready” for college and the workforce? This issue raises the question: Does the business community have an obligation, opportunity and capacity to influence this for the better?
Enter Aligned, a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of business leaders committed to improving education in Kansas and Missouri. This organization works at the state level in Jefferson City, MO to impact laws that will improve the college and workforce readiness of students, aligning them with the needs of the business community.
Aligned’s relationship with Technology Partners began in mid-2018. Technology Partners helped Aligned’s Kansas City board to modernize its website, improving its functionality. While our team was completing this work, I noticed that though Aligned worked on behalf of the entire state of Missouri, the board had no presence in St. Louis. Therefore, in 2019, Torree Pederson, CEO of Aligned, and I created the St. Louis-based board. Within a year, members from St. Louis University, Enterprise Bank, SM Wilson and Lathrop Gage joined the board. Thus far in 2021, members from the Kirkwood School District and Dr. Art McCoy–who now leads the jobs program at the Regional Business Council–have joined us in this effort as well.
I stand with Aligned and Technology Partners who believe education influences the long–term success of individuals. Collectively, we believe there should be equity in education from classroom to classroom, school to school, district to district and rural to urban areas.
Aligned seeks to influence laws that better prepare students for their futures–whatever that may look like. Meanwhile, Technology Partners promotes education and encourages economic development through its LIFT initiative. Together, with the participation of community members, we are generating the educational ecosystem that all students deserve. The higher-level goal with this partnership, is to strategically “align” the education of our students with the needs of organizations, allowing students to become more successful and organizations to have access to high–quality talent.
Unfortunately, disjointed efforts can only go so far. Therefore, I am grateful for these shared visions and efforts contributing to sustainable economic development.
Recently, I had the opportunity to present technology and product development to Parkway High School’s SPARK program entrepreneurs. It excites me to see so many young people with great new product ideas. Our future CIOs, CTOs, CEOs–you name it–are relying on the work we put in today to prepare our workforce of tomorrow. It is truly an investment in all our futures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted concerns by this group regarding the effects of virtual learning and the consistency of programs across the state. Are students receiving the same level of learning? Do they all have access to the required equipment and internet? Aligned is working to ensure funds are made available to address these concerns on a timely basis.
If you are interested in partnering directly with Aligned’s efforts in education, our St. Louis advisory board is seeking bronze, silver and gold sponsors. Visit www.wearealigned.org for more details.