GRCC to break ground on new Laboratory Preschool


Leah Nixon
Director of Communications
(616) 234-4213

Aug. 21, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids Community College preschoolers will help break ground on their new state-of-the-art facility on Aug. 27.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the preschool's new site on Lyon Street, behind the Music Center at 145 Ransom Ave. NE. Anne Mulder and Phyllis Fratzke, who helped create the Laboratory Preschool in 1974, will be honored guests.

President Dr. Steven C. Ender said the groundbreaking marks not only the start of construction but an exciting expansion of the Laboratory Preschool's work in assisting Grand Rapids with meeting state and local early childhood care and education goals.

"Our preschool has always served two important populations: students in GRCC's child development and education programs, and Grand Rapids' very youngest learners," he said. "We are very excited to have a facility designed to help us share those resources with neighborhoods throughout the city."

Generous grant funding from foundations and donors provided $3.5 million for construction of the $7.2 million Laboratory Preschool project. Supporters include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Frey Foundation, Amway Foundation, Jandernoa Foundation, Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, and the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation.

GRCC's Plant Fund and bond financing will provide $2.2 million toward the project. The Kellogg Foundation is also supporting the project with a $1.5 million program-related investment low-interest loan.

A goal of the project is to expand early childhood educational support for families and caregivers in low-income Grand Rapids neighborhoods in an effort to better prepare children for kindergarten entry. Three foundations are providing funding for a new community liaison position at GRCC to implement an outreach program with the new Laboratory Preschool as a hub connecting families, teachers and students with best-practice early education resources. Together, the Kellogg Foundation, the PNC Bank Foundation and the Frey Foundation have provided funding toward the position.

"The community outreach program was created to bring the services of the GRCC Laboratory Preschool and child development program to the community, and the community to the new lab preschool and child development program," said preschool director JaneAnn Benson.

"Many organizations throughout the state and West Michigan are working with us to make this project happen," Ender said. "As we turn over shovels of dirt at our groundbreaking, we're preparing the foundation of a new building and a new relationship with the teachers and caregivers of children in Grand Rapids."

The GRCC Laboratory Preschool, which serves children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and was the first in West Michigan to have a State 5-Star Quality Rating. In addition to providing activities designed to enhance children's language arts, music and movement, science and math skills, it serves as a real-world laboratory for students in GRCC's child development and education program.

GRCC's child development and education department was recently reaccredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It offers Child Development Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences degrees, with and without the Michigan Transfer Agreement; a Paraprofessional Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree with MTA; and Infant/Toddler Child Development Associate and Preschool Child Development Associate credentials.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCCs downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.