The Arkansas Tech University-Ozark campus is one of three community colleges in the state to be selected as pilot sites in the “Sustainable Communities through Community College Leadership” program.

Part of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the program is designed to build upon existing relationships between the colleges and community groups. The other colleges selected are Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas in Helena, and Ozarka College in Melbourne.

“The chosen locations represent diverse community and college cultures and have the leadership to implement change based upon the special needs of students from poverty and to effect positive community change,” noted a statement from ATU-Ozark.

Dr. Jim Purcell, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said the program will attempt coordinate resources other than just money to help provide college training to those who need it.

“The concept of sustainable communities is important because the solutions to reducing the consequences of poverty are not short term and require effort sustained over the course of time,” Purcell said in a statement. “The same is true for the effort required to realize higher levels of educational attainment in Arkansas and to successfully achieve the Governor’s economic development goals of the state. … It takes the broader community working in tandem to address the very complex issues of poverty and resources.”

Other groups and state agencies involved in the program include the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Workforce Investment Board,  the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, the Community Development Institute, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the Southern Good Faith Fund, the Arkansas Coalition for Excellence, the Little Rock Branch of  the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Southern Bancorp.