Feb. 11, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — High school students in Grand Rapids will have additional resources to explore careers and plot the educational pathways needed to obtain them through a new Grand Rapids Community College program in collaboration with Huntington Bank.
Connections to College and Careers focuses on Grand Rapids Public Schools students interested in attending GRCC and helps them boost academic skills as they are inspired to seek careers through hands-on activities and visits to local employers.
GRCC will partner with Huntington Bank to work with students and their families on personal finance skills, helping them save for college and make career decisions. Huntington is providing $50,000 grant, its largest in West Michigan.
“We’re building a seamless transition between GRPS and GRCC, and preparing students for a successful future,” GRCC President Bill Pink said.
"Our economy is changing rapidly, and we need to have an educated, highly skilled work force. This program allows students to start thinking about careers, and focuses on the importance of post-secondary education to gain the skills and credentials for those rewarding jobs. We're appreciative of the tremendous collaboration from Huntington Bank, and its commitment to this work and GRCC."
Students will see that some careers require credentials through a Workforce Training program, while others will need college credits toward a degree or to transfer to a university partner. They'll see how lifelong learning will help them build upon their skills and enhance opportunities for upward mobility during their careers.
"It's important for students to look ahead and be inspired by exploring careers," said John Irwin, president of Huntington Bank's West Michigan Region. "We're proud to be members of the community, and are excited that we can contribute to these efforts through our partnership with GRCC. Together, we're making our region stronger."
Students in the Connections to College and Careers program will make monthly visits to GRCC campuses to explore the college departments through project-based learning activities.
For example, students may participate in a culinary workshop, learning about culinary careers such as food service, dietary, culinary medicine, restaurants, or they may take part in a science lab during a STEM workshop.
They also will learn about in-demand careers and education requirements from monthly visits to West Michigan employers. They’ll see demonstrations related to various industries and hear about potential growth in the fields. Employers also will discuss the educational requirements for those jobs.
The program also will include monthly Saturday events at GRCC’s Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC that include lessons from partners, including Huntington Bank and community nonprofit groups. Topics will cover budgeting, leadership development, and strategies for college success. Sessions will include dinner, and parents are strongly encouraged to participate with students. Students will be paid a stipend to attend the Saturday event that will go into a savings account.
GRPS graduates also will have opportunities for summer activities before entering college, including boosting skills and career exploration.
“This is another example of how West Michigan pulls together,” said Julie Parks, executive director of GRCC Workforce Training. “Our region’s employers are invested in preparing the next generation and helping students know what careers are in demand here and what education and skills they need.”
The effort is the latest in a growing collaboration between GRCC and GRPS to create a seamless transition from the city schools to programs that will lead to credits for degrees or to transfer and career-training opportunities.
In the fall semester, GRCC saw a 31 percent increase in the number of GRPS graduates enrolling. The college and district also team up for an Early/Middle College program in which students gain college credit and summer activities.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.