GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Grand Rapids Community College received two federal grants totaling $3.6 million to strengthen support services for low-income and first-generation students, officials say.
The college’s TRIO/Student Support Services Program is getting the funds from the U.S. Department of Education for support services for 595 students, including academic and transfer advising, tutoring, mentoring and financial aid guidance.
The first grant will provide $2,306,785 over five years for 475 low-income, first generation students, according to GRCC. The second grant will launch a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program. The grant will provide $1,309,440 over five years for 120 STEM students.
“We want every GRCC student to be successful, and TRIO is an important example of the support we provide,” GRCC President Bill Pink said in Sept. 21 press release.
“When you are part of the GRCC family, you are surrounded by people who are with you every step of the way. We deeply appreciate the U.S. Education Department providing resources to assist us, and its investment in GRCC students.”
The federal TRIO Programs are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to DOE.
TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.
GRCC officials say TRIO students will have access to priority enrollment, allowing them to complete course requirements while working around work and family obligations.
They will also be encouraged to learn new skills through undergraduate research with four-year university partners or participation in student or community organizations.
Lesley Bos started at GRCC as a part-time student before taking two years off when her third child was born. When she returned, she took advantage of the TRIO program, according to a press release.
“There’s lots of different tools,” Bos said in a recent My GRCC Story podcast. “We get counselors assigned to us throughout our whole entire time at school so they already know all the information — where you’re at, what you’re doing, what classes. There’s also conferences we can attend, and we have different leadership workshops.”
Through the program, Bos was one of 19 students nationwide selected for a study abroad trip to the Netherlands sponsored by the Council for Opportunity and Education. She won two scholarships, one from the U.S. State Department, that covered the cost of the program.
This year, Bos graduated from GRCC and plans to start at Aquinas College this fall.
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