Across the country, colleges and universities are facing an existential crisis. How to offer our students the best path to a bright future?
More specifically, how do we prepare them for a 21st century job market increasingly focused on innovation and entrepreneurship?
The Brooklyn Education Innovation Network (BE.IN) is a higher education consortium in Downtown Brooklyn that was formed to tackle these questions here at home, the model of which can also serve as a blueprint beyond the borough.
Keep it based in Brooklyn
Home to 11 institutions with more than 60,000 students and 11,000 faculty and staff, higher education in Downtown Brooklyn generates more than $2.8 billion in economic activity annually. The neighborhood is also home to over 60,000 workers and 3,000 companies and small businesses.
Given this, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership quickly recognized the powerful potential for a partnership between the area’s businesses and educational communities. As a result, the Brooklyn Education Innovation Network was formed. The goal is simple: to create a virtuous cycle for Brooklynites. We want students to study in Brooklyn, find a job in Brooklyn, and live in Brooklyn, too.
What sets BE.IN apart
To that end, BE.IN works to further stitch together the fabric of our community the way that many college consortia do: by fostering relationships between and among the institutions themselves. BE.IN enables universities to take advantage of economies of scale for purchasing power, explore cross-institutional course opportunities, and foster innovative partnerships between local industry and faculty. Through this work, schools become more competitive on a national scale.
What allows BE.IN to stand out from the crowd is that the organization is supported by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, whose strong ties to the local business community help the consortium to work much more effectively at creating a talent pipeline to connect students directly to job opportunities in the area, especially within the innovation economy.
This is important because the Northeast is facing a major demographic shift with declining high school graduate numbers affecting the number of applications to higher education institutions.
BE.IN helps to develop the K-12 pipeline, too. Those K-12 students increasingly have their interest piqued by secondary education programs that lead to job placement for a fraction of the cost of a four-year university. BE.IN member institutions are stronger working together, offering cross-institutional programs and resources to students that provide direct access to local employers and opportunities to enhance their professional skill set.
Additionally, BE.IN functions as an incubator for new ideas. Higher education is infamous for its slow pace of change and inability to keep up with technology and the growing innovation economy. As a preemptive response, BE.IN helps member institutions keep pace by working with an external advisory committee that advises it on emerging trends to watch in the innovation economy.
BE.IN is also in year four of hosting an annual entrepreneurship symposium focused on bringing the tech, academic, and creative communities together. Read more about the BE.INnovative Symposium here.
Visit BE.IN’s dedicated website at beinbrooklyn.org.