- By: Doug Betts, Business/Education Committee Chairman
Members of the Chamber’s Business/Education Committee meet monthly to provide updates on the work of many organizations in the greater Fresno region that are charged with helping adult and youth students to pursue higher career ambitions. Our committee’s task is to engage more businesses in this work. In that way, we serve the Chamber’s mission of “promoting Business and enhancing the economic and cultural well-being of Fresno County residents.”
Our efforts may be focused on “economic…well-being of…residents,” but improving the economic well-being of residents has a side effect of improving the work force pool which improves the environment for business. When “business” and “residents” thrive, the “cultural well-being” for all of us is improved.
Three of the organizations that we maintain close contact with are Junior Achievement, Big Picture High School and Joint Task Force for Business and Education Partnerships.
As a business or as an individual, there are several ways you can get involved in helping the mission of Junior Achievement. Individuals or employees of a company can volunteer to teach specific prepared lessons to youth from 2nd grade through high school. These lessons are easy for you to learn then teach. We find the youth and the volunteer teacher enjoy the experience. Job-shadowing is an opportunity for youth from an area school to come to your business for a few hours to see how your business operates. Junior Achievement also conducts fun, company-wide fundraising projects to help further their mission.
Big Picture High School is a charter school in Fresno that has a very unique way of teaching all the academic subjects. The learning process is keyed to the “real world.” Students work at business sites as interns for three days of their school week, every week. They are productive participants for the businesses involved. The school staff closely monitors the work environment and uses the actual work tasks to achieve the student’s academic progress.
The Joint Task Force for Business and Education Partnerships is comprised of representatives from Fresno Compact, Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement, along with Fresno,Clovis and Central unified school districts. Their primary task is to coordinate three job shadow events per year in specific industry sectors. The students are enrolled in courses of study at their high schools focused on these specific sectors. They spend half a day at the businesses seeing how the industry actually functions.