WASHINGTON— A comprehensive assessment of the needs of rural community colleges throughout the country will be conducted by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the association announced today. The study will be funded by an 18-month, $250,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“ACCT is grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for investing in this important research,” said ACCT Chair Connie Hornbeck, a trustee at Iowa Western Community College. “Many rural community colleges are lifelines for their communities, providing vital educational and vocational training opportunities that cannot be sourced anywhere else. In order to best serve these colleges’ ever-changing needs and to help their students succeed,” Hornbeck said, “it is important that we continue to amass research and understand their common and unique needs.”
“This project will build on ACCT’s prior work by engaging rural community college presidents and trustees to gather new information about the challenges faced by these institutions and to develop potential state and federal policy solutions to support their long-term viability,” ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown said. “With this research, ACCT will be able to support the educational needs of rural community college boards and assist in making the best data-informed decisions.”
The project will encompass two components:
Convening presidents and trustees from rural colleges across the country, including those from five states that serve predominantly rural areas; and Publication and dissemination of a report that details enrollment and degree attainment; economic conditions of rural areas; rural college funding; and availability of resources such as faculty, internet and transportation. “Community and technical colleges are central to their communities, and perhaps especially so in rural parts of the country,” Brown said. “ACCT appreciates the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in our efforts to build onto a growing body of knowledge that helps us understand rural colleges’ needs in this time of unprecedented transformation.”