In 1993 with a Maricopa Community College District (MCCD) bond issue underway, a Sun Cities Educational Advisory Committee was formed by Rio Salado College to provide input on what active adults might want. “Forget lengthy credit classes” committee members declared. “We need a Center of our own, offering short, non-credit classes and seminars.” MCCD listened and money for such a Center was included in the bond issue that was approved in November of 1994. Marti McCorkindale was chosen by the MCCD to head an effort to locate a site, build a center, and plan programs to fill it, which she did, remaining as the Rio Salado Site Director until 1998, when she retired. From its small storefront beginnings at the Crossroads Shopping Center to its present 1,000 plus member status, RISE Learning for Life has fulfilled the vision of Rio Salado College and has become the premier lifelong learning center in Maricopa County.
The original Advisory Committee researched Institutes for Learning in Retirement throughout the country, working with the Elderhostel Institute Network. In January 1996, RISE was introduced to the public at an open meeting at the Windmill Inn. Volunteers began the task of creating what we now enjoy. Those first volunteers formed committees and set about writing the constitution, developing the curriculum, and developing a marketing program to recruit members. In August of 1996 the new building was completed, a fall class schedule was in place and the move was made from our temporary storefront site in the Crossroads Shopping Center.
A new relationship was forged between RISE and Rio Salado College, which hosted the fledgling RISE and paid all of the expenses that first year. The new Governing Council, consisting of volunteers (though not formally elected) signed an agreement to gradually assume responsibility for their own expenses over three years, through annual dues as the membership grew. By the year 2000 with an expanding curriculum and increased membership a part-time coordinator was hired. Rio Salado College remains a generous host, supplying classroom space, supplies, secretarial assistance, phones, and printing service. RISE is a self-directed organization governed by its own elected officers and operates in accordance with its own Constitution.
By 2004 it became apparent that the size of the facility was inadequate to accommodate our expanding program in addition to the classroom space required by Rio Salado College programs. In that year a new bond issue was passed and plans were developed to expand the Rio Salado College Life Long Learning Center from 5,000 square feet to 14,500 square feet. In addition to the classrooms dedicated to RISE the LLC has a computer lab, a college testing center, Adult Basic Education classes, General Education Development (GED) classes for high school equivalency diploma, an English Language Acquisition for Adults program and Academic Advisement and Counseling Services.
RISE is not bricks and mortar. RISE is its membership. RISE is people coming together for a purpose.
RISE is a grassroots community-based educational organization created for and by mature individuals to afford them the opportunity for stimulation, enlightenment, and interaction with peers in an environment which encourages lifelong learning.