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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Free College for Union Students In Challenge Scholars

Mariano Avila

The Challenge Scholars program has expanded to offer students at Union High School in Grand Rapids the chance to attend college for free.

“Starting next fall any student who completes all four years of high school at Union High School with a GPA of 2.0 or better, will receive up to two years of tuition-free college at Grand Rapids Community College.”

That’s Diana Sieger from The Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The program is a partnership between the foundation, which has invested $2.4 million in the program, GRCC and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal says the idea is to plant and foster the concept of college graduation in a generation of students.

“Clear expectations: you will go to college. And if you start young enough, kids believe the dream. And that is what we are providing—a dream.”

There are currently over 900 students at Union in all four grades ,which means this dream could soon be a reality for hundreds. 

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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