Grand Rapids Community College has received a significant grant award of nearly $2 million from the U. S. Department of Education Title III program to increase the number of students who stay in college and graduate with a degree. The program will focus on helping developmental education students who enroll in college without the skills necessary to be successful college students. The funds will be distributed over five years.
“A developmental student is not quite ready for college-level work and may need extra courses or support to brush up on skills,” said Cindy Martin, dean of Adult and Developmental Education at GRCC. “This grant will allow us to make more holistic assessments of students' skill levels, which will improve the precision of our course placement decisions. Students will receive a more customized academic plan, improving their chances for success and completion in college.”
Specifically, the College Success Program being funded by this grant will focus on support for developmental students designed to meet three Title III Invitational Priorities:
1) Support activities that will improve the institution’s persistence and graduation rates;
2) Develop strategies for using longitudinal data systems to track outcomes for students; and
3) Develop innovative support programs that are designed to increase completion rates.
“Given our current economic conditions nationally, and specifically in our state, individuals seeking jobs today are realizing that some form of postsecondary education is needed and, unfortunately, many of them lack the basic skills necessary to attend college,” said GRCC president Dr. Steven C. Ender. “Improving the success rate for this group of students is what this College Success Program is all about, which is at the core of GRCC’s mission."
According to GRCC officials, the funded program will provide GRCC with an enhanced intake and data collection mechanism, allowing the college to individually track student progress. “By being able to do this, we get a better picture of where we may need to make improvements or where we may be lacking support services,” said Martin. According to Martin, an average of 5,300 GRCC students fall into the developmental category each year.
Among the program’s goals for 2016 are increases in the number of degree-seeking developmental students who graduate within three years, receive a grade of “C” or better in developmental courses, and complete 30+ college-level credit hours. From a funding standpoint, it is expected that by 2015 increased revenue from tuition and fees of additional retained students, combined with current and continued strategic budgeting for incrementally increasing financial support will lead to self-sufficiency and continuation of the College Success Program.
Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.