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Member Perspective: Ava Willis-Barksdale

Posted Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Uncategorized, Action Teams, Roadmap for Growth, Roadmap, Education & Talent

Guest Commentator: Ava Willis-Barksdale, Interim President, Girard College @GirardCollege

Why should businesses invest and support neighborhood schools through time and talent?

Schools represent the future of any neighborhood — as places where current residents entrust their children. Those children become future consumers and, hopefully, leaders, who may contribute to the vitality of those neighborhoods or others for years to come.

As communities seek to survive and thrive, involvement in schools is critical for both businesses and the schools in those communities. Because the involvement of businesses undoubtedly provides additional resources to schools (in both human and capital forms), support for educators and educational programs is experienced and student outcomes are impacted positively. Previously strapped budgets may receive an infusion that might allow selected program components removed by budget constraints to be reborn, which can be transformative in schools. The presence of business leaders in schools can provide fresh perspectives for educators that are worth more than money. Potential future employees for local businesses may be “grown” through this process. The sense of community engagement is deepened with increased business investment.

As a leader of a school that is part of the very fabric of Philadelphia, with a storied past, and a vibrant future, I am convinced that our business support and partnerships allow and propel us to increase our ability to provide innovations in academic and lifelong learning skills. Our business partners provide opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to be exposed to current ideas that live outside of our classrooms and coming discoveries being developed in the business arena, as well as the ability to incorporate them in our current learning environment.

Simply said, both entities win when connected together!


Girard College is a member of the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team, a group of business, civic and community leaders committed to the development and execution of a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda to lift and improve Philadelphia’s economic and civic life.

Upcoming Roadmap Event:

Roadmap for Growth: Exploring Business Engagement in Philadelphia’s Schools

Monday, January 29, 2018
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Quorum at the Science Center
Girard College • 2101 South College Avenue • Philadelphia, PA 19130
Tickets starting at $35

Learn more and register »

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