My GRCC Story: At 70, Penelope Jones taps Futures for Frontliners to plan for her ‘next’

Penelope Jones smiling

When Penelope Jones saw the chance for a tuition-free degree at Grand Rapids Community College, she knew she had to take it.

Never mind she’s 70 years old.

“My whole life, I always wanted to go to college. So, when I heard about Futures for Frontliners, I knew if I didn’t walk through that door, it might never be open again,” said Jones, a Kentwood grandmother of five.

Futures for Frontliners is a state scholarship program for Michiganders who worked frontline jobs in essential industries during the state’s COVID-19 shutdown. The scholarship provides eligible frontline workers with free in-district tuition to pursue an associate degree or a certificate at their local community college.

Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect have proven wildly popular for West Michigan adult learners. At GRCC, 24% of students this fall — 3,017 out of 12,685 — are enrolled in the scholarship programs.

Jones qualified for the free tuition because she worked at a local FedEx office facility throughout the pandemic.

But she’s certainly no stranger to hard work. Her hefty resume includes a lifetime of work with Grand Rapids-area nonprofits, businesses, a municipality and a hospital, among others. Her longtime husband, Eric D. Jones Sr., was pastor of the former Agape Christian Ministries International, where she also worked. Together, they raised three sons.

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ODEI honors PRIDE OUTside the Box: Ben-Alex Dupris

This event is at Noon (EST) and virtual

𝗧𝘂𝗲𝘀𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗡𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝟵
𝑁𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝐴𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝐹𝑖𝑙𝑚 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐴𝑟𝑡
A film screening & talkback with 𝗕𝗲𝗻-𝗔𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝗗𝘂𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘀, director of Sweetheart Dancers.

Adrian and Sean are the “𝗦𝘄𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗗𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘀,” who broke ground in powwow communities by entering the popular couples competition. They are the first “Two-Spirit” couple to enter the competition and continue to pave the way for LGBTQ Indigenous people.

PRIDE OUTside the Box illuminates scholar-practitioners, artists, and initiatives that critically examine socio-political, economic, and identity issues from an intersectional framework (Crenshaw, 1989).

Correction: Loaner laptops for Staff to be Managed by IT

We have some exciting news! Beginning November 8, 2021, the option for Staff to check out loaned laptops will once again be done through IT.

While the Library has been graciously offering this service through most of the pandemic, they will continue to do so for students only. They will also continue to loan hotspots, webcams and headsets to staff.

If you find that you are in need of a loaner laptop, please fill out the request form in our Customer Support Portal. Please understand that there are limited loaner laptops available. For us to continue offering this service, only employees who do not already have a laptop, or those traveling for college purposes, are eligible.

 Laptops will be loaned for a period of two weeks for staff and a full semester for Adjunct Faculty. We greatly appreciate your understanding. 

Anyone who has loaned equipment that they no longer need can return it to our Digital Cafe located in Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, Floor G2, Room 004 Monday through Friday 8 am – 5 pm. 

Tech Tip: Windows notifications shortcut

Are you on a Windows laptop and missed a notification on the bottom of your screen? There is an easy shortcut to pull this up without having to click your mouse. Use 4 of your fingers and tap your trackpad. The notification center will instantly open and display all missed notifications. 

For more information and helpful tips, please visit the IT Customer Support Portal or contact the IT Customer Support Desk at x4357.

If you have a suggestion or a Technology Tip you think can be useful, you can submit them by emailing 

GRCC In the News 11/05/2021

College Notes: Ferry, GRCC capture MCCAA title

11/4/21; The Argus-Press (Owosso)

Chesaning alumna Karissa Ferry had five kills, seven digs and a block to help Grand Rapids Community college beat Mott Community College in four sets to win the Michigan Community College Athletic Association championship Saturday.

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids starts Friday

11/4/21; Grand Rapids Magazine

The 12th annual Restaurant Week Grand Rapids event kicks off Friday, Nov. 5.

… For every Restaurant Week GR check-in through the digital pass, Experience GR will donate $1 to an endowed scholarship fund through the Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, up to $5,000. Since its inception, Restaurant Week GR has donated more than $150,000 to further the education of local culinary students.

Western Michigan University in talks with Latitude 42 for on-campus brewpub

11/4/21; MLive

KALAMAZOO, MI — Pints could soon be poured at a third Latitude 42 brewpub in Kalamazoo County.

… Similar pubs, but that are self-operated, are open at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Grand Rapids Community College.

Restaurant Week GR kicks off Friday

11/5/21; WOOD TV

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Restaurant Week Grand Rapids kicks off Nov. 5 and runs through Nov. 13. Organizers say they’re ready to help owners get a much-needed boost in business while also giving back to up-and-coming chefs.

… (Janet) Korn says not only does the week put a spotlight on local businesses, but it also helps culinary students. For every digital Restaurant Week check-in, Experience GR will donate $1 to a scholarship fund through Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

Morning News

11/5/21; FOX 17

(Restaurant Weed coverage includes an interview with GRCC alum Trimell Hawkins.)

Open Enrollment Deadline is Today, Friday, November 5, 2021

Each year, open enrollment gives employees the opportunity to reevaluate their benefits. It’s a chance to switch health plans, add coverage and shop for voluntary benefits such as Flex Spending and Aflac. The Open Enrollment deadline for employees to add, drop, or make changes to benefit plans is today, Friday, November 5.

Even if you are not changing your election, we highly recommend that you login to your Plansource online account, review your profile details; confirm your elections, and dependents.  Also, this is a great time to review your life insurance beneficiaries and update if necessary.


To Access your Open Enrollment Benefits you will need to login to the PlanSource enrollment system:

Log on to:

Username: is your GRCC email

Password First Time User:  Your Date of Birth in YYYYMMDD format.  For example:  December 31, 1999 would be 19991231

If you have logged in to the Plansource System last open enrollment or submitted a status change during 2021 you would have already created a password. Please enter the password you selected. If you need your password to be reset, please email or call Debra Davis at ext-4175 or Maria at ext-4052.

Visit the HR Health benefits Open Enrollment webpage to access Open Enrollment information and view updates, view Open Enrollment FAQs and access Online Open Enrollment Guide:

If you have questions or run into a problem while enrolling, we’re here to help; for assistance please contact Debra Davis at: Phone: (616) 234-4175 or Email: