Challenge Scholars

The Challenge Scholars program is a community promise of a free college for all Union High School students.  It is a commitment from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, and the community for students and their families to have a college education within reach. The program is a comprehensive approach that pairs both academic and social support to ensure student success. Since 2013, sixth grade students from Harrison Park and Westwood Middle School have been able to enroll in Challenge Scholars to receive up to the four years of tuition-free college upon graduating from Union High School. In joining the partnership in 2016, GRCC has expanded this opportunity of a free college education to all students at Union High School and committing Student Success Coaches to work with students, starting in 9th grade.

Beginning with the graduation class of 2020 all students who graduate from Union High School will be eligible to receive up to two years of tuition-free college at Grand Rapids Community College.

Challenge Scholar Success Coaches from GRCC

  • Spend part of their week at Union High School engaging with students both individually and inside the classroom
  • Work collaboratively with teachers and support staff to identify potential barriers that students may be facing and connect students to the appropriate supports
  • Assist students along their personal and academic journey by providing targeted interventions and outreach throughout the school year
  • Foster personal development and leadership skills through individualized support to students

GRCC College Conferences

We each Fall semester for all Union freshmen. During these visits, students learn about the college-going process, hear from a dynamic educator and motivational speaker who touches on overcoming both academic and life challenges, and participate in interactive tours of both the main campus and M-TEC facilities.

To learn more about Challenge Scholars, please visit