Oct. 15, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College saw a 31 percent increase in the number of Grand Rapids Public Schools graduates enrolling, an indication of a growing partnership focused on ensuring that all city students have an opportunity to succeed.
GRCC leaders are aiming to expand opportunities for students of all ages from across the region. But they have worked closely with GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal and her team on a variety of programs to help students prepare for college and overcome potential obstacles.
GRCC President Bill Pink said the leaders are creating a seamless transition between the school district and the community college, preparing students for a successful future and strengthening the city overall.
“Being relevant and responsive to our community means working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach his or her potential,” Pink said. “We have a partnership with Superintendent Weatherall Neal and GRPS that is only growing stronger, and we have community partners collaborating with both of us so our city’s students gain in-demand skills for careers and credits for a degree or to transfer to continue their education. We've made great progress, and there is more to do.”
The number of spring 2018 GRPS graduates enrolling in GRCC increased from 116 students in 2017 to 152 students this fall.
There are 239 GRPS students enrolled in dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment and middle college programs, up from 219 students a year ago and nearly double the 121 students in fall 2016.
GRCC's Early Middle College at Ottawa Hills High School is a 13th-year experience that gives students an opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate degree. About 50 students are dual-enrolled in high school and college courses this year, with tuition and fees for the GRCC courses covered by the K-12 district’s state aid.
Weatherall Neal is a Grand Rapids Junior College alumna who is a forceful advocate for her district’s students and their families.
“GRPS and GRCC have a long, rich history dating back to when they were the junior college and part of the district," she said. "The significant increase in the number of GRPS students graduating and attending GRCC is further evidence of the strong partnership that exists between our two organizations.”
Pink said collaborations include efforts to make a college education more affordable and accessible, and partnering with the district to support students in whatever obstacles they face.
The district and college will also build on collaborations with the business and philanthropic communities, helping students overcome challenging circumstances and providing opportunities to explore and gain skills for future careers.
The Early Middle College program is one of several GRCC-GRPS initiatives created or strengthened during the past year, including:
- The Challenge Scholars Program, which allows students at Union High, Harrison Park Middle and Westwood Middle schools to earn up to four years of tuition-free college at GRCC and other colleges and universities. GRCC success coaches work with the students to help them grow academically and explore opportunities for postsecondary education and careers.
- GRCC Associate Dean David Selmon has been assigned to focus on GRPS students, working with them, their families and their schools to ensure that they are aware of opportunities and assistance available for them and to help them through the admissions process.
- Raider Nation Day, which connected recently enrolled students from GRPS high schools and East Kentwood High School with campus resources to successfully launch their college experience.
- The Summer Learning Academy Cruisin’ to College program, in which students earn college credit, improve college math skills, explore career opportunities, and visit area colleges and universities to give them the tools to be successful in their post-secondary academic a career.
- GRCC hosts the Grand Rapids Learning Center, a program designed to meet the needs of students up to age 20 who are returning to complete their high school education before transitioning to being full-time college students and preparing for careers. About 90 students were enrolled in the program last year.
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.