Philip Green, the entrepreneur bidding to take over Marks and Spencer, is using his Arcadia Group to sponsor 50 new specialist schools in England.
Philip Green is looking to help "potential future employees"
The high street fashion retailer is putting up £1.25m.
This will fund half the £50,000 sponsorship each secondary school has to raise to bid for specialist status.
The company is working with the Specialist Schools Trust to support schools wanting to become business and enterprise colleges.
'Potential future employees'
Mr Green attended a fee-paying school but left at the age of 15 to go into the rag trade.
He said: "I really wanted to support the 11-16s age group in encouraging and developing these young people's entrepreneurial talents whilst they are still at school, as well as helping to prepare them for work by teaching them industry-related skills.
"As the retail industry is the largest private sector employer in the UK, it makes perfect sense for Arcadia to support potential future employees within the markets they currently operate in."
Schools which succeed in a bid for specialist status receive about £600,000 in extra government funding over four years - with a capital grant and extra per pupil.
Arcadia, whose retail chains include Dorothy Perkins and Topshop, made £228m profit last year.
It will also be supplying management expertise and governors to the schools it sponsors and will be offering students work experience placements.
"With over 2,000 people employed in store management positions and another 250 working within the geographical regions, Arcadia has a wealth of experience to draw from and to truly work in partnership with the chosen schools," Mr Green said.
The Education Secretary Charles Clarke said: "This is a very significant and exciting new partnership.
"It's just the sort of relationship between schools and business that is at the heart of much of our five-year plan for education."
That plan, announced on Thursday, expects all schools to be specialising in at least one curriculum area by 2008.
Currently 1,955 of the country's secondary schools have become specialists - other subjects including technology, sports, arts, languages, engineering, science, maths and computing, music, and humanities.
Mr Clarke said he hoped to see many more such partnerships over the coming months and years.