Photos of Challenge Scholars on campus.

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.



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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

GRCC In the News, 7-8-14

West Michigan school leaders react to ACT results

July 7, 2014; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — ACT scores released Monday, July 7, by state education officials show increases in the majority of West Michigan’s traditional school districts. But despite signs of progress, the percent considered college ready remains low.

… For example, remediation is required of students who score less than 18 on the ACT and then perform poorly on Grand Rapids Community College’s Accuplacer placement test.

Public-art event invites 8 locals

July 7, 2014;

At least eight Cincinnati-area artists have been invited to create work for ArtPrize, the 19-day celebration of public art in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this fall.

… Mark Hanavan’s “Inherent Values” is comprised of three charcoal drawings mounted on concave surfaces. The three images (a triptych) are of his daughter, wife and his wife’s mother. Grand Rapids Community College Collins Art Gallery.

GRCC participates in Bilingual College Fair

On Thursday evening November 14, Angela Salinas (Admissions) and Marisol Blanco (College Success Program) represented GRCC at the first bilingual college fair held at Cesar Chavez Elementary School hosted by the West Michigan Hispanic Center. Nearly 100 students and their parents attended the event to inquire about higher education and obtain informative materials.


College Success Center hosts open house for employees

The College Success Center Team would like to invite you to our Fall 13 Open House: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. October 8, 2013, in 113 of Sneden.

You may have heard about programs we support such as Fast Track, Bridge, ABO, and Reading 095, but would like to know more about our process, interventions, or work in general. This is an opportunity to meet the coaches and ask specific questions about these programs. Also, learn about Fast Track’s success record in saving time, money and helping students skip their placement in developmental education courses.

Refreshments will be provided.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 616-234-2312.


GRCC In the News, 9-9-13

Why GRCC students are creating a sugar ribbon capable of stretching 200 feet

Sept. 6, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – It started as an experiment.

But Chef Gilles Renusson’s sugar ribbon pull assignment, first attempted in 2009, has since turned into an annual event at Grand Rapids Community College.

Raeuf Roushangar:
Accomplishing much with little

9/6/13 msutoday

“‘My only request is that he doesn’t mention his religion in school,’ the principal told my mother. I was just starting first grade, standing beside my mother at the time, and while I didn’t understand, I just did what I was told.”

… He eventually found his way to Grand Rapids Community College where he got a tutoring job.

“In my life, I always find people who believe in me,” Roushangar said. “The people in charge of the tutoring service at the college believed in me.”

Meet Portage Public Safety’s newest police officers and firefighter, sworn in Friday

Sept. 6, 2013; MLive

PORTAGE, MI –When the newest Portage Public Safety officers were sworn in Friday, Chief Richard White gave each of them a coin to represent their commitment to integrity and a code of ethics.

… Ashley Lubberts, police officer: Lubberts attended Rockford High School, before attending Cornerstone University on a volleyball scholarship. She attended the police academy at Grand Rapids Community College. She is engaged to Benjamin Hoekstra.

State Reps. Dillon, Brinks take week-long SNAP Food Stamp Challenge

Sept. 7, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — For a week, state Reps. Brandon Dillon and Winnie Brinks will attempt to walk in the shoes of those who struggle to put food on the table each day.

(Article doesn’t mention it, but Dillon is a GRCC graduate.)

Inside Track: Gillespie’s crowning achievement: businesses supporting each other

Sept. 6, 2013; Grand Rapids Business Journal

His legal name is Thomas Gillespie, but that’s not who he really is.

… After prison, Gillespie went back to work at his father’s business, Gillespie Funeral Services, 1865 Eastern Ave. SE, where he now helps run the marketing and public relations aspects of the company. He took some classes at Grand Rapids Community College, he said, but it was his interactions with local African-American business owners and leaders that led to his journey into the business world.

MICHIGAN BRIEFS: Mercantile-Firstbank merger creates ‘formidable’ rival

Sept. 8, 2013; Crain’s Detroit Business

… Muskegon Community College plans to move part of its campus to downtown Muskegon as part of a $24 million proposal approved by the MCC board of trustees last month, MiBiz reported. The measure calls for a new creative arts facility, additions to the college’s science and gymnasium/health center and another building to be built downtown, if voters approve.

Many midsized cities have used campuses for development, MCC President Dale Nesbary said, pointing to Grand Rapids Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Lansing Community College as examples of schools that have moved parts or all of their campuses into urban areas.

GRCC In the News, 7-9-13

Time is the enemy: Why GRCC is looking to accelerated courses to reduce remedial education

July 8, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Speed just might be Grand Rapids Community College’s biggest ally as it looks to reduce stubbornly high failure rates in remedial classes.

A new summer program known as Fast Track condenses what used to be semester-long remedial classes into a three-week period, creating an opportunity for students to move directly into college-level courses in the fall.

Colleges, Kent County school districts work to curb number of students in remediation

July 8, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — As colleges struggle to bring low-performing high school graduates to college readiness — in some cases nearly 47 percent of tuition-paying students require remedial courses — local leaders at both levels are working to resolve the problem with a simple but often overlooked approach.

… Gorman during the 2012-13 school year met with provosts from Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State, Davenport and Grand Valley State universities about aligning secondary learning demands to match with higher education expectations.

Database: See how many recent graduates from your district are taking remedial classes at GRCC

July 8, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Each year, a significant number of high school graduates who attend Grand Rapids Community College must take remedial courses, which don’t count toward graduation and cover concepts students were supposed to learn in high school.

Dig In: Monica’s Gourmet Cookies now available in Kalamazoo grocery stores

July 8, 2013; MLive

KALAMAZOO, MI — When customers walk inside the Harding’s Friendly Market at West Main and Drake, it’s gotten much harder to keep their hands out of the cookie jar.

… “It’s been a whirlwind for me,” said owner Monica Mitidieri, a former caterer and graduate of GRCC’s Secchia Institute of Culinary Education. “The last two years have been surreal.”

Change Ups: Gilda’s Club GR selects new president

July 7, 2013; Grand Rapids Business Journal

… EDUCATION: Debra Bailey has been elected to the Grand Rapids Community College board of trustees.

GRCC In the News, 7-8-13

At GRCC, nearly half of recent high school graduates unprepared for college-level work

July 8, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Forty-seven percent of Kent County public high school graduates who enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College last fall weren’t prepared for college-level courses in math, reading or English.

3 West Michigan business leaders named finalists for Enrst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 award

July 5, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Three business leaders are national finalists for Enrst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 award.

They are Amy Proos, CEO of Proos Manufacturing Inc in Grand Rapids; Chuck Reid, president of Charter House Innovations and Noel Cuellar, founder and CEO of Primera Plastics Inc.

… The son of migrant farm workers from Texas, Cuellar overcame language barriers and childhood reading problems to graduate from Holland High School. His career in manufacturing began on the production line at the Holland Heinz pickle plant before joining the former automotive parts manufacturing company Prince Corp. (now Johnson Controls Inc.) on the production line. While at Prince Corp. he took night courses in plastics manufacturing at Grand Rapids Community College and was promoted to production technician.

Community Solar: GVSU workshops in Muskegon to give participants a roadmap beginning July 9

July 6, 2013; MLive

MUSKEGON, MI — Those interested in exploring and implementing community solar projects are being offered a four-week, 12-hour seminar through Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon.

… The four sessions, includes a group of speakers moderated by MAREC Program Director Kim Walton and Grand Rapids Community College instructor Mary McGraw.

Restaurant Week gets ready to serve local goodies

July 5, 2013; Grand Rapids Business Journal

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Local chefs, locally grown foods and the local food-service industry are in the spotlight this summer thanks to Downtown Market and Experience Grand Rapids.

… Participating restaurants will donate $1 from every meal sold to the scholarship fund at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College, which has produced many of the local chefs that are designing and preparing the events meals. Over the past four years, the event has donated nearly $60,000 to the fund.

Triumph Music Academy scales enrollment 250 percent

July 5, 2013; Grand Rapids Business Journal

To call Triumph Music Academy ambitious might be selling its quartet of co-founders short.

… Hughes said that the organization has received referrals from Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University and Guitar Center, which has endorsed the school as the best place to go in town for private music lessons, as well as offered its students a discount on instrument purchases.

GRCC In the News, 6-12-13

Esteemed former Grand Rapids Civic Theatre managing director Paul Dreher has died

June 12, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Paul Dreher, former managing director of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, died Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 80.

… In retirement, Dreher continued to direct shows and design lights for companies, including Circle Theatre, Jewish Theatre, Heritage Theatre, Grand Rapids Community College, Calvin College, Aquinas College as well as for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

GRCC accepting students for summer Fast Track program

June 12, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids Community College is accepting applications for a summer program that aims to help students bypass remedial courses and move into college-level classes.

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ finalists include Grand Rapids dance instructor

June 12, 2013; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Among the 33 dancers remaining on this season of “So You Think You Can Dance”, a reality dance competition that airs on FOX, one name may sound familiar. Markus Shields is a Grand Rapids dance instructor and choreographer from The Moving Company.
(Story doesn’t mention it, but Shields is a former GRCC student, according to his bio.)

GRCC In the News, 6-7-13

Radio interview

May 16, 2013; WJRW

Interview with Mike Faber, associate director of GRCC’s Older Learner Center, about the Senior Leadership and Grandparent/Grandchild Summer Wellness Day Camp programs.

GRCC fast tracks incoming students with free summer program

June 6, 2013; Grand Rapids Business Journal

Want to go to Grand Rapids Community College for free this summer?

It could happen by using GRCC’s Fast Track program, a three-week session that helps incoming students become college-ready in the areas of reading, writing and math. It allows students to save time and money by bypassing remedial courses.

GRCC to help prepare graduates for jobs with Ready Now!

June 6, 2013; The Holland Sentinel

Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids Community College will be working with other organizations to give Kent County youth employment skills and training to interview for jobs and internships.

Paddling to the next level: Jeff Neumann, avid canoer, kayaker, opens business

June 7, 2013; MLive

Jeff Neumann is no stranger to canoes. He got his first taste of paddling as a 10-year-old boy, in Quincy, Ill. That’s where he and a cousin lashed two canoes together and spent idyllic days floating in protected waters along the Mississippi River.

… Today, at 53, Neumann still loves the allure of a quiet paddle, the natural scenery along rivers in Michigan. So much so, the former Grand Rapids Community College electronics instructor launched a guided canoe and kayak business upon retiring from teaching.

Three sessions scheduled for Fast Track program

GRCC recently hosted an information session on its Fast Track program.

The free Fast Track program is targeted to incoming students who have academic potential but need further instruction in reading, writing and math to be college-ready. The intensive, three-week program strengthens their skills so they can bypass remedial courses and be ready to start regular college courses in the fall.

GRCC is offering three sessions for summer 2013: June 10 through 27, July 8 through 25, and July 29 through Aug. 15. Space is limited. For more information, call 234-2312 or register online here.

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Raider Salute for help with Middle School Conference

Sara Brooks, Urban Enrollment and Dual Enrollment coordinator, has a Raider Salute:

I’d like to send a Raider Salute to Chef Luba and the ATC Catering Services, Bayard Brooks, Eric Mullen, Sandy Gregory, Angela Salinas, Francisco Ramieriz, Domingo Hernandez, Sarah Laylock, Erika Bailey, Chris Sain, Ennis Young and Raynard Ross for their assistance and flexibility in helping to make the Middle School Conference a HUGE success. The public schools were pleased and the students gained beneficial information about: why college is important, their options and what they should do now to get to college. We hosted roughly 80 students and it couldn’t have been done with out all those people named.