Rural Community College Initiative

SRDC Releases Evaluation of Southern Rural Community College Initiative

As a capstone to the Rural Community College Initiative (RCCI) program coordinated by the Southern Rural Development Center and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development from 2002-2007, the SRDC has released an evaluation of the RCCI program in the Southern Region. Authored by Priscilla Salant and Stephanie Kane of the University of Idaho, the report examines four key questions that are crucial in determining the success of the effort in the region. Through site visits to every RCCI team and discussions with RCCI college administrators, Land-Grant University faculty and residents of the colleges' service areas, the report examines the Ford Foundation's expectations of the program as well as the realities of implementation by the Initiative's partners.

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Rural America in a Time of Change: The Importance of the RCCI Program

Rural communities in America are facing some tough challenges. Creating quality jobs, giving kids a shot at a good education, providing decent health care, providing opportunities for more people to take an active role in shaping the future of their communities, and creating hope for the future represent just a handful of the key issues facing many rural communities today.

A key to helping rural communities become competitive in the new economy is to work simultaneously on developing the skills of the people who live there and diversifying the economic base that supports the community. Because of their commitment to building both people and places, rural community and tribal colleges are ideally positioned to become catalysts for regional development.

Over the course of the last seven years, the Ford Foundation has invested resources in the Rural Community College Initiative (RCCI). This effort, coordinated by MDC, Inc., was designed as a national program to help rural community and tribal colleges in economically distressed regions move their service area communities and residents toward prosperity. It began with nine community and tribal colleges in 1994 and was increased to twenty-four colleges in 1997 to support aggressive and creative efforts to increase jobs, income and access to education in rural communities. Projects undertaken by program participants included support of economic development, increased access to the resources of the community and tribal colleges, and expanded participation in community decision making.