Community-wide initiative aimed to help college grads succeed

Posted at 12:23 PM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-18 12:23:52-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– Bettering the lives of college graduates, that’s the focus behind a community wide initiative announced Thursday.

Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell joined the superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools and seven west Michigan colleges, namely Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. They put this commitment in writing.

The community compact is a cooperation between all of them and the people of west Michigan.

Right now, only 18% of GRPS students graduate from college. The hope is to increase that to 40%. Low income, minority students and first-generation college students are a big priority.

“For many of these students, they don’t have parents who went to college and so this is new and sometimes frightening experiences,” explained Mayor Heartwell.

The Lumina Foundation, which is the nation’s largest private foundation working to increase student’s success in higher education, is giving a nearly $200,000 grant to support these efforts. It’s not yet known how the money will be used, but the mayor anticipates collected data and surveying students about their needs.