This article is sponsored by Communities Foundation of Texas.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” – Helen Keller
Communities Foundation of Texas lives this message out through their amazing work partnering with donors, the business community, and local non-profits, all passionate about improving the Collin County community.
In the fall, Communities Foundation of Texas released a detailed economic assessment of the region with a focus on economic opportunity and equity in order to encourage collaboration around community needs.
As the region emerges from an unprecedented year with unforeseen difficulties behind us and new opportunities (and a few new hurdles!) ahead, now is a unique time for area residents — individuals, philanthropic entities, and the business community — to consider the needs and landscape of the community and come together in new ways to create a future rich in opportunity for everyone.
Here are some potentially fruitful areas of partnership that emerge from the insightful report:
In the report, the foundation urges the community to maximize partnerships between business and educational institutions in order to strengthen pathways from educational institutions to employment.
It notes, “Several local Collin County businesses have already created internships that help ensure every student can participate in the county’s economic prosperity.”
Area businesses should continue to work to find ways to expose students to job opportunities. Internships with local businesses in local industries are an obvious path to ensure a strong path forward for students after graduation and to strengthen the local workforce.
Employers can benefit both from the work of interns during the internship and by hiring students after graduation who have already been exposed to the industry and job training. Students with a clear path forward and a vision for their job after graduation are far more likely to actually graduate and later, pay off their student loans while flourishing in a secure career path.
In order to incentivize internship programs, local non-profits could create scholarships to offset the cost of paid internships for small or struggling businesses that otherwise couldn’t afford to support interns.
In the report, CFT suggests that community leadership could “offer financial wellness programs such as financial coaching, loan forgiveness, and debt payoff to employees entering the workforce as part of employment benefit/incentives. Companies that offer these services attract talent, increase employee retention and productivity, and boost their company brands.”
Local non-profits could partner with businesses in the community to provide basic financial training for recent graduates, helping them to plan for student loan repayment, housing options, retirement planning, and basic financial literacy. Such partnerships would reach across partisan divides because basic financial literacy is such an essential piece of individual success and community strength.
For individuals from lower-income backgrounds or for first-generation graduates, this kind of tangible support and practical training from employers and the community can make differences that touch generations.
Community Financial Literacy Education
This financial education support could also extend to the community at large, as businesses, town leadership, and local philanthropic entities could partner to provide financial literacy workshops through the library or the chamber of commerce.
Educating local citizens about budgeting, reducing debt, building or repairing credit, working through the process of purchasing a home, and claiming rightful tax benefits would benefit the community as a whole while bringing community leaders and local businesses together on non-polarizing issues.
Prioritize Access and Walkability
Frisco is a town at the cutting-edge of development trends. Keeping affordable access in mind, such as shuttle services and walkability potential as continued decisions are made by the business communities and town leadership, will help to support citizens with limited access to vehicles.
Zoning laws that incentive mixed-used developments can improve access to amenities for economically vulnerable populations.
These are just a few. Contained in the detailed report are a number of additional practical ways in which the community can partner around addressing practical needs locally for marginalized or at-risk populations.
The way in which local businesses, town leadership, and philanthropic efforts come together locally is one of Frisco’s greatest treasures. No stranger to addressing tangible and immediate area needs, the timely report offers some visible, practical ways to easily strengthen the community.