Three northern Arizona community colleges have entered into an agreement to improve academic programs, as well as workforce development, along rural stretches of the Interstate 40 corridor. As Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris reports, the agreement is unprecedented in the western U.S.
Coconino, Northland Pioneer and Mohave community colleges announced the intergovernmental agreement this week to create the I-40 Corridor Coordinating Council. The Council will provide a cooperative higher education network for residents living along rural stretches of I-40 in Coconino, Mohave, Navajo and Apache counties. The collaboration will allow the colleges to enhance and provide education and job opportunities in those areas by sharing resources, including curriculum, instructors and digital technology. Creation of the agreement also means that colleges will not necessarily have to invest separately in programs and equipment that can be shared among them. The Rural Community College Alliance, a national organization of rural colleges, says the idea is original to colleges in the western U.S. and will serve as a model for rural community colleges nationwide.