What Does PACERS Do?
- Programs. PACERS assists communities and schools to
offer its nationally-recognized programs in science, entrepreneurship,
writing, visual arts, community history, music, drama, and
- Entrepreneurship. PACERS promotes entrepreneurial/business
education and opportunities in schools and communities through
its support program, "Getting Down to Business.
- Advocacy. Through a variety of approaches, PACERS is
an advocate for small rural schools and appropriate and equitable
rural education that links learning to place and schools to
- Collaboration. Through conferences, workshops, and
its project networks, PACERS assists rural communities and
schools/educators statewide to define and act together on
issues that affect their well-being.
- Information. PACERS provides information to rural communities,
schools, and individuals through conferences, newsletters,
training sessions, and its web-site.
- Resources. PACERS assists schools and communities to
develop collaboratively funding resources through contracts
- Research. PACERS, in partnership with communities,
conducts research on rural education.
- Partnerships. PACERS recruits professional resource
persons and organizations as partners for rural schools and
- Public Engagement in Education. PACERS strengthens community
involvement in schools through programs, information, and training
How Did PACERS Begin And What Are Its Goals?
PACERS began as an in-service program for rural teachers sponsored
by the Program for Rural Services and Research (PRSR) at the
University of Alabama. Realizing that their common interests-including
keeping small schools open-participating teachers and PRSR
staff began planning for an organization of rural schools.
The outcome was the PACERS Cooperative, an informal association
of thirty schools representative of rural Alabama. The Cooperative's
program, Better Schools Building Better Communities, created
projects and approaches that gained state and national recognition
for their academic outcomes and contributions to local life.
They became the models for PACERS present activities. Over
a period of years, participants decided that the future of
the work depended upon the development of an independent rural
non-profit. Although this step meant the loss of institutional
support from the University of Alabama, it placed the setting
of agendas, decision making, and responsibility for the program
in the hands of rural communities and their members.
This new grassroots effort has focused upon developing local
groups, continuing and expanding projects, and identifying and
addressing the basic issues facing small rural communities and
schools. Receiving its 501c3 status in late 2005, PACERS now
has ten community chapters with more than 500 total members
with a goal of forty chapters and 3,500 members by 2011. Its
project in rural media has eight participating schools/communities.
PACERS Rural Science for Life has five schools/communities sponsoring
aquaculture projects with two additional sites engaged in its
new solar project. PACERS expects by 2011 that its rural science
network will have 30 school/community participants in solar,
aquaculture, and hydroponics/greenhouse projects with its community
documentation/publishing network having an additional 25 members.