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GRPS college success program awarded grant


$150,000 dollars was the grant recently given to Our Community’s Children, a joint partnership between Grand Rapids Publics Schools and the City of Grand Rapids. The funds, awarded by The Wege Foundation, will go towards operating the T2C Studio in the Grand Rapids Public Library. The studio was created through the To College Through College initiative two years ago. It exists to help students throughout the entire college process, focusing on first generation students of color. Shayla Young is the coordinator for the studio.


“We do so by offering a variety of services, anything from one-on-one assistance with a college application, FAFSFA, locating scholarships, and also we uniquely offer opportunities to have one-on-one interactions with college representatives,” Young said.

Young and her staff focus on a personalized experience, inviting students and their families to come in to talk about college options and plans. In the community, Young and Waller facilitate scholarship workshops in GRPS high schools.

Possibly one of the most unique and personable resources the studio offers is their texting service. Young said they will send out texts to students about various opportunities in the city, but students will also text them with their questions. Young and her staff are then able to assist students with issues like filling out their FAFSA almost instantly through text message.

Yoel Garcia first met Shayla when she presented at his school and her alma mater, Innovation Central High School. Garcia got involved with the studio this year after his freshman year at Michigan State University. He said he started to struggle academically and mentally.


“Over the summer, I was trying to improve that, so I came into the T2C studio, and I really just wanted to build a game plan with Shayla to see how I can improve academically, possibly even find an internship, and that’s how they led me to the LEAD program,” he said.


Through the program, Garcia was able to do a short-term internship at the T2C Studio. He took classes at Grand Rapids Community College over the summer and is now back at MSU.

Arianna Waller is a long-term intern at the studio. She said she enjoys being able to help students.

From L to R: Waller, Garcia and Young outside the studio.

“I get to, like, help other students find scholarships and help them navigate through some hurdles I’ve navigated as a first generation student of color," Waller said. "So, it’s just been awesome to be here.”

From the grant, the studio will receive $50,000 dollars every year for three years. Those funds will go towards general operation, and the continued effort to reach more students.

To get involved, visit T2CStudio.us or visit the studio on the third floor of the Grand Rapids Public Library.