It’s a good time to be a student on the “Creative Coast.”

A new partnership between several higher education institutions in Sarasota, Manatee and Pinellas counties will now allow students to take credits at partner colleges and apply them toward a degree at their home campus.

The cross-registration system is a recent agreement between institutions belonging to the Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast (also known as C4). The program will allow students to take courses at any consortium institution, as long as seats are available.

The Consortium, created two years ago with the support of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF), includes New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art & Design, State College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Florida State University at The Ringling, and Eckerd College.

C4’s mission is to expand student and community benefits by pooling together the collective’s resources. Its overall goal is to transform the Sarasota-Manatee area into a vibrant education destination that is appealing to students and businesses alike.

“When the collective strength of these institutions’ faculty, programs, and leadership is assembled and leveraged, our region has the resources of a major research university,” said Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) in a press release. “This consortium has developed plans that we think can attract more quality students, provide a stronger workforce and help diversify our economy.  This can be a real economic development ‘calling card’ for our region.”

The partnership is said to be first of its kind in the Southeastern U.S., according to an article in the Herald Tribune. The partnership will enable officials to secure business partnerships and allow the colleges to share educational resources and emergency services.

Several philanthropic organizations now support C4, including Charles & Margery Baranick Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) and Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF). The foundation partnership recently appointed Dr. Laurey T. Styker to manage the initiative. Dr. Stryker is the former president of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus and currently works as an educational consultant for non-profits and foundations.

Learn more about C4’s latest developments in the Herald-Tribune, Bradenton Herald, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s News from the Front.


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