Today, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) announced its commitment to continue and expand the work of its Strengthening Rural Community Colleges research and awareness-building initiative. The study will be funded by a 17-month, $245,681 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“ACCT is grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for investing in this initiative, which is vital to the success and well-being of community college students throughout the rural United States,” said ACCT Chair David Mathis, a trustee at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York. “Many rural community colleges are linchpins in sustaining the vitality of their communities, providing educational and vocational training opportunities that cannot be sourced anywhere else. They empower students in rural communities with bright financial futures, and they supply area businesses with a well-educated and technically advanced workforce.”
“This project will build on ACCT’s prior work through the Strengthening Rural Community Colleges report that engaged rural community college presidents and trustees to gather information about the challenges faced by these institutions,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “One of the findings of this work was that rural colleges did not feel that they had a way to connect with one another to share ideas and discuss issues. They also expressed concern over the many barriers to accessing federal grant funding.”
The project will encompass three components:
- Convening rural community college leaders to establish a new nationwide network;
- Providing technical support, assistance, and information to rural colleges that seek funding; and
- Providing other information relevant to rural ACCT member community colleges via a dedicated website, which will also be made available to higher education stakeholders and state and federal policymakers.
“Based on our intensive research into the needs of rural community colleges over the past 18 months, we know that America’s rural community colleges and their students have needs that are not currently being met, said ACCT Senior Vice President Jee Hang Lee, who serves as the project lead. “The next phase of our holistic Strengthening Rural Community Colleges initiative will engage a minimum of 55 colleges, including at least five tribal colleges, to ensure broad geographic and cultural representation of rural community colleges. ACCT will work with these colleges as well as partners and affiliates to ensure that rural interests are understood at the federal level and met to the greatest extent possible.”
To learn more about the rural colleges initiative, visit https://rural.acct.org.