Matching potential business partners with schools that need their help has always been a challenge for large school systems. Businesses want to contribute and schools need assistance, but plugging the right resource into the need often is difficult.

It's a challenge Deborah Antshel faced when she became partnerships director for North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in 1997. With the help of geographic information systems (GIS) and database software, however, the district has hit upon a unique solution.

"When we were looking for business partners for a school, a staff member would drive the neighborhood around the school, write down the names of

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