Last week marked the end of the “College Conference,” an event to inspire and motivate Challenge Scholars to attend college. Six college conferences were held, where groups of 40-50 different Union High School freshmen visited campus each day. They learned about the “college going” process while getting a glimpse of what GRCC has to offer. Speakers included GRCC admissions staff, a GRCC student panel, and motivational speaker and educator Paul Hernandez who touched on overcoming both academic and life challenges. Students also toured the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education facilities and the Tassell M-TEC.
The Challenge Scholars program is a commitment from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, and the community for students to have an opportunity to succeed that they may not have had before. It is putting a college education at reach for students and families. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation has raised over $33 million to award scholarships for students in the program to receive a free college education. Since 2013, sixth grade students from Harrison Park and Westwood Middle School have been able to enroll in Challenge Scholars to receive up to the four years of tuition-free college upon graduating from Union High School. In joining the partnership this year, GRCC has expanded this opportunity of a free college education to all students at Union High School. Beginning with the graduation class of 2020 (current 9th grade class), all students who graduate from Union High School will be eligible to receive up to two years of tuition-free college at Grand Rapids Community College.
The Challenge Scholars program is a comprehensive approach that pairs both academic and social support to ensure student success. Since the start of this academic year, two Success Coaches have spent their mornings in classrooms at Union High School supporting the Challenge Scholar students in their transition from the middle school to high school. They work collaboratively with teachers and support staff to identify potential barriers that students may be facing and connect students to the appropriate supports. Coaches will continue to assist students along their personal and academic journey by providing targeted interventions and outreach throughout the year, while also focusing on career exploration and development in 9th grade.
Learn more at challengescholars.org