Business Partnerships

Community & Business Partnership in Action

SPARK supports our schools and educators by partnering with businesses and community-based organizations to identify and invest in new and effective initiatives. To see what some of these partnerships look like in action, take a look at some of the videos below!

This museum-schools partnership pilot program between SPARK and the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation is sponsored by AWS InCommunities.

The program brings fourth graders from PWCS elementary schools without a designated science lab to the "Think Big" Space at River Oaks Elementary School, and fifth graders to the Children’s Science Center Lab located in Fairfax. Students in both grade levels get the chance to experience modules designed by the Science Center's SOL based Science Enrichment Program.

Collaboration between Prince William County Public Schools, SPARK, and AWS resulted in the first "Think Big" Space in the country in 2019. The lab, designed to promote career awareness, engineering design, coding, and gamification, is named after one of Amazon's leadership principles.

The space, created to mirror an actual Amazon working environment, provides access to 3D printers, drones, and Kindles with augmented reality.

The lab is located at River Oaks Elementary School, and is available for fieldtrips for other PWCS elementary schools.

The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab located at Cedar Point Elementary School is known as the Tech Lab. 

On alternating weeks, kindergarten through fifth grade students from Cedar Point Elementary School visit for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities, challenges and project-based learning. Students collaborate to code, build with circuits and innovate. When they tinker, play, make mistakes, and create in the Tech Lab, students stretch their minds and build confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions About Business Partnerships

This section will provide answers to questions we often receive. We realize how important it is to the success of a partnership to communicate effectively. When you have a question we encourage you to contact us so we can provide an answer or go to the right source for the answer.

How will a school-to-business partnership help my business?

While the benefit to your business may be immediate through the services of a good intern, it is more likely that you will benefit in the long term through the availability of a highly skilled workforce who understand the workplace.

What kind of resources can I provide through a school-to-business partnership?

Every legitimate business in our community has resources it can provide. In most of our existing partnerships “time” is the greatest resource. People who volunteer in our elementary schools to read or help children with math; speak to a class of middle school students about their job or hobby; or train a high school student through a workplace internship are invaluable to our school division. The key is to get involved in our schools!

How much time is involved in a school-to-business partnership?

The amount of time varies from business to business. Some businesses spend time every week in the schools working with staff and students while others may attend one meeting or activity per month. It is up to you when partnering with a school to determine how much time you will spend.

Will my partnership give me direct access to students and their parents?

No! The Prince William County School Board has regulations, which prohibit anyone from having direct access to our students and parents. In addition, volunteering in our schools will require a background check. There are also regulations that limit advertising on school grounds and on school-sponsored communication instruments.

Why should a school create a school-to-business partnership?

The business community can provide valuable resources in meeting school goals. Providing a quality education for all children is the responsibility of the entire community. The business community is eager to provide assistance in helping schools address identified needs. Many companies in our community have policies that provide release time for their employees to volunteer in our schools. You will be able to use this website to find companies who are willing to meet your needs.

How much time and personnel attention will a school-to-business partnership require?

There will definitely need to be some time commitment if the partnership is going to be successful. Someone in your building must be designated as the "point of contact" for your partnerships. Ideally, this person should be your school's assigned Partnership Coordinator. It does not matter who this individual is but they must be committed to the success of the partnership. They must be aware of school needs, accessible to business partners, and able to coordinate all activities of the partnership.

What does the business community expect schools to provide?

Someone in your building they can communicate with. A realistic list of identified needs, which the businesses can help develop, will make a difference in the success of your children. Feedback on the overall impact of their involvement and some form of recognition. Once you create your partnership there are many things schools can provide their business partners.