The Chesapeake Area Consortium for Higher Education (CACHE) was formed in 1995 to address shortages in the supply of physical therapist assistants by sponsoring joint programs among the Consortium institutions for which there was a defined need and demand in the region, but which were too costly for an individual college to support on its own. Three community colleges in Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College, College of Southern Maryland, and Chesapeake College, combined resources to create and administer the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Associate of Applied Science degree program.
The CACHE PTA Program gained initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association in May 1998. In April 2004, the program received full accreditation through June 2014. Students who complete the two-year, five-term program receive an Associate of Applied Science degree from their home college. Graduates are eligible to take the National Licensing Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants.
The CACHE Institute for Environmental Careers leverages the successful CACHE PTA model by expanding programs to address environmental issues confronting the state, and ultimately the country. A fourth college, Wor-Wic Community College serving the lower Eastern Shore, has joined the consortium, which is developing complementary programs to support training for environmental careers. Student can pursue Letters of Recognition (10-11 credits) or Certificates (25-35 credits) in occupational skills training to meet a variety of needs of government agencies, land management companies, developers and other firms that support conservation practices surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.
CACHE is governed by an Executive Board consisting of the appropriate academic vice president or dean of instruction from each of the member colleges. Program Directors administer the PTA and Environmental programs for the Consortium and report to the Executive Board. The CACHE Institute for Environmental Careers has convened an Advisory Board composed of representatives from the community colleges, workforce investment areas, and businesses to serve as subject matter experts on curriculum, business and student outreach, and employment opportunities.