Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rio Salado Building Green Learning Campus

Green Schoolhouse Series to be launched in Phoenix

A unique partnership between Tempe-based Rio Salado, the City of Phoenix, the nonprofit organization Brighten a Life, and Cause and Effect Evolutions will bring the first green charter high school to Phoenix.

Last week, Rio Salado College President Linda Thor, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and Marshall Zotara , managing partner of Cause and Effect Evolutions, unveiled plans for the Green Learning Campus and Higher Education Center, which will be built at Rio Salado’s Seventh Avenue site, 619 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix.

“This site will become the newest point of pride for education within the City of Phoenix,” said Thor. “In the near future, this site will undergo a significant transformation to become a multifaceted campus with a sustainability focus for both high school and adult learners.”

Brighten a Life and Cause and Effect Evolutions are building two new sustainable green schoolhouse buildings with 7,000 square-feet of classroom space. These facilities will house one of the nation’s first green charter high schools, which is slated to open in the fall of 2010. Sustainability will be infused in the curriculum and will focus on improving and using energy more efficiently.

“Students will have the option to receive both high school and college credit simultaneously through dual enrollment,” said Thor. “This will give them — and their parents — a very affordable head start on their bachelor’s degrees.”

The buildings are the first structures in the nation to be built through the nonprofit organization Brighten a Life, the originator of the Green Schoolhouse Series. Cause and Effect Evolutions is working with local companies to obtain sponsorships to cover the cost of constructing the buildings.

Along with the two school houses, a third new building is slated to be built with funds from General Obligation Bonds, which were approved by voters in 2004.

“In the third building, Rio Salado will continue to offer a full array of free, in-person Adult Basic Education non-credit classes,” said Thor. “The same building also will provide regional support services for Rio Salado College online students, such as testing, academic advising and tutoring services.”

Rio Salado’s two existing buildings on the 7th Avenue site will be retrofitted to make them sustainable and environmentally responsible, while the two existing portables will be torn down.

“This campus also will offer green jobs training programs,” said Thor. “Earlier this year, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to join Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon in meeting with senior officials from the Departments of Education, Labor and Energy. As a result, Rio Salado has joined forces with the City of Phoenix, and together we are seeking federal stimulus funds for portions of this dynamic new model in education. If we are successful in obtaining those funds, they will be utilized to retrofit the two existing buildings for the green jobs training classes.”

Rio Salado College has made a commitment to do its part to develop sustainable living, working and learning environments. And through its unique partnerships with Brighten a Life, Cause and Effect Evolutions, and the City of Phoenix the college that is a leader in online learning is taking another step toward being a leader in sustainability.

To learn more about Rio Salado’s sustainability efforts, visit