GRCC, Kent ISD, industry leaders team up to offer Early/Middle College program

March 20, 2017 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is teaming up with Kent ISD on Launch U, a tuition-free early college program.

Students in the four-year Launch U program will graduate with a high school diploma and a GRCC associate degree in mechanical design, tooling and manufacturing technology, or industrial technology. 

Launch U was created in partnership with local school districts, GRCC and area manufacturing representatives.

“We are excited to partner with the Kent ISD and industry partners to deliver these Middle College programs” said Bill Pink, vice president and dean for GRCC’s School of Workforce Development. “We aim to be responsive to our industry sectors by providing as much education and training support as possible, and this is another avenue for us to help in meeting the talent needs of our county. I am happy for our partners, the district, and, most importantly, the students who will take advantage of this awesome opportunity.”

Enrollment is open through local school districts. The program starts with 10th-graders in fall 2017 at the KISD campus on East Beltline Avenue NE. In addition to working on industry-related projects, the students will benefit from tours, job-shadowing and internships.

Early/Middle College programs give students a head start on their future, said GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender.

“Kent ISD students will get access to 21st century workforce skills and college credits at no cost," he said. "These students will be prepared to meet the needs and demands of West Michigan businesses and industry."

Superintendent Ron Caniff noted that the new program is open to all students within the Kent ISD.

“Career readiness is a huge priority of our superintendents, so we are excited to offer this new program for students across the region who want a good career right out of high school,” he said. “This partnership with our community college and business community offers a really unique opportunity for young people. And we’re glad to be part of the talent pipeline employers need.”

Dan Clark, GRCC dean of Academic Outreach, said the college has really focused on expanding early college opportunities over the past few years.

"Early college programs remove financial and other barriers for students and their families," he said. "Launch U will offer the additional benefits of helping students get a start on their career paths." 

GRCC's Early/Middle College programs are:

  • Wyoming school district -- started in fall 2012; the program offers students an Associate of Arts degree.
  • Cedar Springs school district -- started in fall 2014; the program offers an Associate of Arts degree.
  • Careerline Tech Center -- started in fall 2016 in partnership with Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and Herman Miller; the program offers an Industrial Maintenance Certificate and up to 30 free transferable college credits.
  • Ottawa Hills High School -- scheduled to start in fall 2017; the program will offer students an Associate of Arts degree.

Kent ISD is a local educational service agency devoted to achievement for all students. We serve the community by helping our schools prepare students to be successful in work and life. Our primary customers are the students, teachers, staff and administrators of 20 public school districts, Christian and Catholic schools and Public School Academies.

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.

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