An effort to foster a mutually beneficial partnership between the business and education communities in San Rafael has reached an important milestone with the formation of a 12-member business advisory group and the first meeting between that group and leaders from the San Rafael City Schools.

The effort, known as the “114th Partnership,” is meant to foster the same sort of collaborative culture that helped an internationally recognized and highly diverse school district in Maryland accomplish staggering student outcomes. The Marin Community Foundation has lent financial support to the endeavor, named for the longitude of the Great Continental Divide.

“The synergy that’s created as things get going -- there’s a lot of excitement about being a part of this,” said Dr. Michael Watenpaugh, superintendent of San Rafael City Schools. “It’s quite refreshing to have a group of business folks being very supportive of what we’re doing.”

The school district in San Rafael became the first to take part in the 114th Partnership late last year, an effort that founder Jane Kubasik said will result in a “demonstration site” for other school districts interested in the approach. Unlike other business and education partnerships, she said, the partnership leans heavily on creating a culture of equals and common goals.

With the overarching objective of increasing student readiness for college and careers, business and education leaders established three mutually beneficial goals during a meeting early this month: employee engagement, district reputation and the improvement of student outcomes during changing needs.

“We were able to immediately agree that everybody was able to learn from each other,” she said.

The group is currently exploring options for pro bono support of the effort, including a soon-to-be completed Gallup survey to determine employee engagement in the district, she said.

One goal, said Dr. Watenpaugh, is to develop a plan beginning in kindergarten that puts students in the diverse Marin County district on track for high school graduation and continuing success. As part of that endeavor, the district is close to completing a study of the past six years of graduates in hopes of determining the common benchmarks among those who were successful.

While many members of the business advisory group live in Marin County and have company operations there, Ms. Kubasik said that she is hoping to add representatives from other locally headquartered businesses to the team.

Staff from the 114th Partnership will spend the next 12-17 months working with the district.

Business Advisory membersKaiser PermanenteMarin Sanitary ServiceSodexoDeloitteUnited HealthcareHansonBridgettWells FargoPriceWaterhouse CoopersBank of AmericaAT&TBuchalter NemerMcKinsey & Company***

Redwood Credit Union will offer its sixth Financial Literacy Academy this month, a free high school program that has graduated 172 students since it began in 2009.

The program is conducted in partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education and Santa Rosa City Schools, following the High School Financial Planning Program developed by the National Endowment for Financial Education.

 “Ultimately, we hope to see financial management skills made a mandatory part of the state’s high school economics curriculum, and we are pleased to see that some schools are already looking at ways to incorporate financial literacy as a graduation requirement,” said Brett Martinez, president and CEO of Redwood Credit Union

The spring Financial Literacy Academy session will be held at Redwood Credit Union’s administrative offices, located at 3033 Cleveland Ave. in Santa Rosa, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 20 and 21 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 22. Students enrolled in 11th or 12th grade in Sonoma County schools are eligible to attend, and registration for the limited number of spots is possible at www.redwoodcu.org/academy or by calling 707-576-5259.***

Dominican University of California will join a group of 30 universities hand-picked by the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute for a new consortium focused on “rethinking undergraduate business education,” according to a release from Dominican.

The Aspen Institute invited Dominican to join the so-called “Aspen Undergraduate Business Education Consortium” due to the school’s reputation for fostering a strong liberal arts foundation for business undergraduates. Those experiences will be increasingly important for well-rounded business graduates in the future, the institute contends.

“A strong liberal arts foundation provides an education that will enable our graduates to demonstrate responsible, competent and ethical leadership in their professions and communities throughout the world,” said Dr. Dan Moshavi, dean of Dominican’s School of Business and Leadership.

Other schools invited to join the consortium include Santa Clara University, Georgetown University and University of Notre Dame.

Participants will convene twice during the 18-month program to share and develop best practices, following concepts from the Business, Entrepreneurship and Liberal Learning study conducted at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Funding for the effort comes from the Teagle Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York....

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Eric Gneckow, 707-521-4259 eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com.