School News Network: Grand Rapids Promise Zone

Jan 22, 2020

School News Network
Credit schoolnewsnetwork.org

The soaring cost of college has been a big barrier to post-high school education for a generation of students. Grand Rapids school and civic officials lowered that barrier in a big way with the Grand Rapids Promise, providing full scholarships to Grand Rapids Community College for graduates of the 22 public and private high schools in the city of Grand Rapids.

On a historic day for the city of Grand Rapids and its schools, Pedro Gutierrez and Hedy Cardenas suddenly felt more confident about their futures.

The Innovation Central High School seniors spoke of how much a full scholarship to Grand Rapids Community College means to them, at a press conference announcing the launch of the Grand Rapids Promise. All students who live in the city of Grand Rapids and graduate from one of its 22 public, private and charter high schools will be eligible for two-year scholarships to GRCC, under a plan approved by the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority.

The Promise scholarship will fund up to 60 credit hours at GRCC, covering tuition, books and fees, and enabling students to earn an associate degree, certificate or job training. The awards will be available beginning with this spring’s graduating class.

The plan projects over 1,300 graduates will be eligible, and that more than 260 of them will enroll in GRCC. Projected first-year cost is almost $950,000, which must be covered by community fundraising. Beginning in its third year the fund will receive dollars captured by the growth of its six-mill state education property tax, which is projected to fully cover the scholarships.

Students Pedro and Hedy say the scholarships will lift a financial burden from their families, and enable them to pursue their career dreams.

For School News Network, I’m Charles Honey.