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Grand Rapids Community College receives $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor

Grand Rapids Community College has been named a lead recipient of the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant and will receive $5.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the second award GRCC has received from the Strengthening Community Colleges Grant program and is the only college in Michigan to receive this award. 

The grant money will be used to implement systems changes in order to remove barriers, support enrollment, nurture academic success, and prepare students for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and offer career development opportunities. GRCC, together with Muskegon Community College, will partner with West Michigan Works! and other industry stakeholders to identify workforce needs of the multiple employers in West Michigan’s tech industry and validate job skills and career pathways. 

The direct benefits to students include:

  • More work-based learning experiences with employers in the tech industry
  • Expanded degree and certificate offerings in Data Science, AI, and Automation to support jobs of the future 
  • New tech career pathways that go from the Career Tech Centers to GRCC and then on to four-year institutions
  • Additional opportunities from learning digital skills to advanced skills in cybersecurity, robotics, communications, broadband, and more
  • Faster retooling of programs to accommodate in-demand skills and credentials
  • New program additions at both colleges — GRCC will build a Communications and Broadband Installation program

“The work this grant will cover is tied directly to the Right Place’s Tech strategy,” stated Dr. Charles Lepper, GRCC President. “It will allow us and our partners to achieve and sustain five systems changes—employer engagement in the tech sector, a decentralized career services model, expansion of credit for prior learning protocols, expanding options for students in tech career pathways, and flexible instruction with optimized course scheduling. “

“Michigan’s community colleges play an important role in building a talent pipeline for the good paying jobs that can be found across our state,” said U.S. Senator Gary Peters. “I was proud to support funding for this grant program, which will allow Grand Rapids Community College to strengthen its workforce development programs and help prepare students for in-demand careers.”

GRCC is grateful for Senator Peters who wrote a letter of support to the Department of Labor and for Representatives Scholten and Glanville for championing the educational opportunities this grant will provide community college students and the economic impact it will have on West Michigan and beyond. 

“GRCC continues to set the bar for career path training and education,” said U.S. Representative Carol Glanville. “This 5.5 million dollar federal investment speaks to the quality programming they provide. From skilled labor to advanced manufacturing, culinary arts, information systems, healthcare, and childcare, they have created intentional partnerships to help fill the talent needs of our region, connecting students to high-demand, good-paying jobs. This grant, combined with state-sponsored programs such as Michigan Reconnect and the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and the $16.8M capital investment, serve as catalysts to support GRCC in their work to help achieve the state’s goal for 60% of adults to have a professional certificate or degree by 2030.” 

“Everywhere I go, I hear from business leaders about the worker shortage in in-demand industries here in West Michigan. Now, we’re investing $5.5M to help close that shortage and equip Grand Rapids Community College students with the skills they need to build careers with high-paying, family-sustaining wages. I want to congratulate Grand Rapids Community College leadership, faculty, and students on this incredible victory, and I can’t wait to see how this funding will change lives here in West Michigan,” said Rep. Scholten.

The total amount of the award is $5,515,501.00, which will fund 95% of the program.