Nov. 20, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The number of Grand Rapids Public Schools graduates enrolling at Grand Rapids Community College continues to grow, reflecting a strong partnership among educators and efforts to ensure 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 Interim Superintendent Ronald Gorman and his team on programs to help students and their families prepare for college.
The number of recent GRPS graduates enrolling in GRCC in fall 2019 increased about 4 percent from fall 2018, with 144 students taking classes – including the valedictorians from Central Innovation and Ottawa Hills high schools. But the number has grown 73 percent since fall 2017, and 121 percent from fall 2016.
GRCC President Bill Pink said he is proud of the college’s partnerships with K-12 districts and intermediate school districts across the region.
“Our community benefits when educators work together to create opportunities,” Pink said. “We’re proud of our collaboration with GRPS and other district, and also the community organizations supporting us all. Together, we’ve been successful – and we continue to build upon that success.”
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 currently in the early middle college program this year, with tuition and fees for the GRCC courses covered by the K-12 district’s state aid.
More than 200 GRPS students enrolled in dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment and middle college programs in each of the last two years.
“Our graduation rates have increased by more than 50 percent over the last seven years and more students are enrolling in post-secondary opportunities like GRCC,” GRPS Interim Superintendent Ron Gorman said. “We greatly value our partnership and longstanding history with GRCC and are excited to see the significant increase in our students enrolling there.”
The district and college continue to expand collaborations with the business and philanthropic communities, helping students overcome challenging circumstances and providing opportunities to explore and gain skills for future careers.
Collaborations with GRPS include:
- 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 works closely with GRPS students, their families and their schools to ensure that they are aware of the opportunities and assistance available for them and to help them through the admissions process.
- Raider Nation Day, which connects recently enrolled students from GRPS and East Kentwood high schools with campus resources to successfully launch their college experience.
- The Summer Learning Academy Cruisin’ to College program, in which students earn college credit, improve math skills, explore career opportunities, and visit area colleges and universities to give them the tools to be successful in their postsecondary academic career. It is supported by a grant from the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation.
- The Grand Rapids Learning Center, a GRCC-hosted program, is 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.
- Connections to College and Careers, supported by a grant from Huntington Bank, focuses on helping GRPS students interested in attending GRCC, helping them boost academic skills as they are inspired to seek careers through hands-on activities and visits to local employers.
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.