Fifty executives attend GBC event to cultivate school-business partnerships

More than 50 business representatives attended the kick-off event for a revived Greater Baltimore Committee initiative to recruit business partners for Baltimore City schools.

Deborah SilcoxBusinesses seeking school partnerships can expect better organization and more help in being matched with schools, said Deborah Silcox, director of partnerships for Baltimore City Public School System.

The school system has not always been “a helpful or welcoming place” for businesses that approached them seeking to help a school. “In the past, we came to you and told you about our needs, but we gave you no idea about how to begin,” said Silcox.

But businesses can now expect to be welcomed and guided into partnerships that are enriching and fulfilling for both school students and their private-sector partners, vowed Silcox.

Barbara Baines, assistant vice president for Brown Investment & Advisory Trust Company, a GBC member, recounted her company’s more than two-year partnership with William Paca Elementary School. “We had no idea what we were getting into,” said Baines, so the company simply went to the school and asked the principal for a “wish list.”

Barbara BainesThe partnership then flourished from holding a fundraiser and providing choir robes for the school – the top item on its wish list – to tasks that included creating a library, building a school store, providing school supplies for teachers and uniforms for teams, funding school trips, and tutoring students.

Among other things, “we freed the school up to pay attention to scholastics,” said Baines. The partnership didn’t just help raise school morale. Academic achievement and test scores have increased dramatically at the school during the last two years.

“It doesn’t take that much time to do this. So little does so much for these kids,” she said. “We never saw it coming that we would get out of this as much as we put in.”

For information on becoming a school partner, contact the GBC’s Liz Pettengill at the GBC, 410-727-2820, x41, or Deborah Silcox at 410-396-8813.

Daily Record coverage of the GBC’s school partnership event.