GVSU, area colleges create scholarships for GRPS students

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Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas joins officials from participating institutions to announce the partnership.
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Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas joins officials from participating institutions to announce the partnership.
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Grand Valley State University has partnered with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to create a new scholarship for Grand Rapids Public Schools students, offering them the opportunity to attend and succeed in college.

President Thomas J. Haas and officials from three participating institutions — Ferris State, GRCC and Aquinas — made the announcement at Harrison Park Elementary School November 8. The new scholarships created by these institutions will support GRCF’s Challenge Scholars program, which is designed to prepare, encourage and provide resources for students to attend college.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide the opportunity for these students to go to college,” said Haas. “The Challenge Scholarship Program fits perfectly with Grand Valley’s mission to provide access to a college degree and increased opportunities. The students are remarkable and show such promise. This program will make a difference in their lives and the future of our community, and I can’t wait to welcome some of them to our campus. “

The program, which launched two years ago, begins with sixth-grade students at Harrison Park School and Westwood Middle School. Each scholarship package differs in requirements and what is provided. Students who complete program requirements and graduate from Union High School will receive a Last Dollars scholarship from GRCF. The value of the scholarship depends on family income and which college the student chooses to attend.  

GRCF President Diana Sieger said: “The scholarship commitments we announce today add another element to the partnership, bringing additional resources to students, parents and faculty at our three Challenge Scholars schools. Together, with Grand Rapids Public Schools we are ensuring students on the West Side have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Troy Wilbon, principal of Harrison Park Elementary School, thanked the colleges and universities for continuing to work as a community to offer opportunities for students to be successful. “To sum up all the support we’ve received, ‘wow,’ is all I can say. These students are our future,” said Wilbon.