C2 Career Connections

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Public Education Partners
City & State:
South Carolina
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Public Education Partners (PEP) is a non-profit organization founded in 1995. We are a local education foundation that works to improve and support quality public education in Aiken County Schools, the fifth-largest district in South Carolina. We do this by serving as an intermediary between schools and the community, finding best practices and innovative solutions that harness resources not otherwise available to the schools.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

In 2002, our business community wanted to help our schools provide more work-based learning opportunities to their students, but there was no efficient means of communication to make this happen. Working with businesses, the Chambers of Commerce, and the schools, PEP used Microsoft’s donation to develop a relational database called C2 Career Connections. Businesses now use C2 to list their offerings (classroom speakers, plant tours, shadowing, etc.), and students and counselors use it to find and schedule the interactions. Instead of a stack of paper with business names and phone numbers on it, which could only be viewed by the counselors to keep students from contacting businesses directly, we now have an up-to-date, web-based listing of opportunities accessible to all who need it. This means we changed our system from counselor-centered to student-centered. With the donation of Small Business Server 2003, Standard Edition, from Microsoft we were able to have our own in-house webserver on which to design and host C2 Career Connections. (You can visit C2 at www.PublicEdPartners.org and click on the button at the top right.) Our capacity to do this work has had a tremendous impact. Our collaborative network increased the number of participating businesses from 125 to over 400. We expanded the number of students shadowing and interning each year from about 200 to over 500. The geographic range of students AND businesses expanded greatly. The District has rural schools that often felt left out of school-to-work efforts in the past. With C2, they now have the same access as the urban schools to the businesses offering opportunities. Companies from Augusta, Georgia to Columbia, SC are listed on C2, showing a definite geographic expansion of participating businesses. In addition, our local 4-year university now uses C2 for its career learning catalog. PEP’s server operates 24/7, so kids and parents can search the database together whenever they like and last school year C2 had over 3000 student/parent “hits.” Because we were able to customize the design of C2 right here, PEP could respond to the needs of our schools and businesses. We did not have to buy an off-the-shelf tool that was both expensive AND inflexible. We were able to design something that was simple enough for even the least computer-literate counselor, while at the same time giving them the information they wanted and making them more comfortable with online tools. Particularly useful was our ability to include the mail server functions. Counselors, businesses and students can complete forms and send emails through C2. If we need to remind businesses that hundreds of kids are coming their way on Groundhog Shadowing Day, that’s just one click, and our server software does the rest. The quality of our service increased tremendously. The information on our server gives students and counselors a much more complete idea of what the businesses are offering – what the experience will be like, where to park, whether to pack a lunch, how to dress, and any prerequisites for applying. In addition, we were able to provide a means for taking real-time attendance by the businesses. In the past, counselors might have to call 80 businesses in a single morning just to ask, “Did my student show up?” With this server, businesses just click a button when each student arrives, and counselors can check on attendance online. Businesses can provide immediate feedback, either through an email function or by using the evaluation form, which the server collects for viewing by the appropriate counselor. The server also collects and reports, including a summary of school-to-work activity; where each student is assigned to go and when; and the number of students, counselors and businesses using the site. These reports help the district and state track career learning experiences for students from year to year. Thanks to this donation, when the State of South Carolina passed the Education and Economic Development Act of 2004 requiring career learning experiences, Aiken County was already well able to fulfill the mandates because we had C2 in place and fully operational. C2 has been highlighted by the State of South Carolina in publications disseminated to every district as an example of an innovative tool to improve and expand career learning. This summer, PEP is going to redesign the Career Connections version of C2 so that we can begin to harness the power of volunteers for our 40 schools through C2 Volunteers. This is the donation that keeps on giving! Thank you!

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
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Supporting Work URL