Launch U partnership highlighted by state for providing college credits, career skills

March 22, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Launch U is a specialized early college program for eligible Kent ISD high school students, helping them earn a diploma, an associate degree Grand Rapids Community College.

Students also have the option to graduate with industry recognized certificates, without extending beyond their senior year. Both educational pathways are offered at no cost.

The state Talent and Economic Development Department is highlighting educational opportunities preparing students to fill the the state’s skills gap and get a head start on their post-secondary education. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget calls for increased education funding to help fill Michigan’s talent pipeline.

The Governor has called for 60 percent of Michiganders achieving post-secondary credentials by 2030, a 44 percent increase, to help position Michigan as a place with a highly skilled population.

“Programs that are designed to support students in their career and educational pathways are at the forefront of reaching the state’s educational attainment goals,” TED Acting Director Stephanie Beckhorn said. “When students are set on a path to earn a certificate, two or four-year degree, employers gain a highly-skilled talent pool to fill the 811,000 jobs coming open through 2024, and the state grows closer to filling the skills gap – it’s a win-win.”

Students save time and money by earning up to 60 college credits from courses taught by GRCC instructors. Those credits can be transferred to a four-year college or university if students choose to continue their education.

 By their 13th year, Launch U students are taking classes fulltime at GRCC.

“Partnering with the Kent ISD to provide more opportunities for an affordable education is part of our focus on being relevant and responsive to the community we serve,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “Launch U is an opportunity for students gain credits for a degree or to transfer to a four-year university. It also provides students with skills for in-demand careers. Both pathways help students, and our community as a whole.”

Launch U provides access to rigorous college courses without the financial burden other students may experience who choose a more traditional pathway.

“With college debt a looming challenge for most, early middle college is a fantastic response,” said Dr. William Smith, assistant superintendent for instructional services at Kent ISD. “Launch U is a unique opportunity to close the distance between education and career.”

Upon completion of their training, and earning national recognized certifications, students are ready to enter in West Michigan’s high-skill manufacturing industry, where their talent is in high-demand and jobs are high-wage.

“More and more first-generation college students will have access to college, careers in high-skill and high-demand fields, and in a shorter time frame,” Smith said.

Michigan’s Going PRO campaign is the state’s one-stop resource for exploration in the state’s most high-demand, high-wage careers in professional trades. These are career opportunities that are available through various education pathways, including credential attainment, two or four-year degrees.

The deadline for students wanting to participate in the Launch U program is March 29. Information is available at the Launch U website:

Students, parents, educators and other influencers are encouraged to use the state’s Pathfinder website to learn more about the educational pathways leading to high-demand, high-wage careers. Find additional information about professional trades careers in Michigan at

TED allows the state to leverage its ability to build talent with in-demand skills while helping state businesses grow and thrive. Joining job creation and economic development efforts under one umbrella, Ted consists of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Michigan Strategic Fund, Talent Investment Agency and Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority. Learn more about TED at

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.

TED contact:

Erica Quealy

(517) 582-2961


Kent ISD contact

Ron Koehler

(616) 365-2292

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