Community colleges vie for 'pathways' grants

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Capital News Service
LANSING – Grand Rapids Community College hopes to be awarded a grant to improve career pathways for adult learners through counseling before and after enrollment.
“This grant will help us fill some gaps we have in programs and help us possibly make some previous work experience transfer into credit,” said George Waite, director of employee training at the college.
The Pathways to Credentials grant would be administered by the Michigan Community College Association’s Center for Student Success and funded by the Kresge Foundation.

Grants of $75,000 over the next two years will go to six community colleges based on their written proposals, said Chris Baldwin, the center director.
“Community colleges will be able to fund programs that they previously did not have funds for, and this will help bridge the gap of college-educated people in the workforce,” Baldwin said.
“A college credential is essential in the 21st century economy, and yet more than 1.7 million working adults in Michigan are below high school graduation level in a least one basic skill area such as literacy, writing, mathematics or English as a second language,” said Michael Hansen, president of the association. “These adults face considerable barriers in obtaining the basic academic skills necessary to enroll and succeed in college-level courses.”
And Baldwin said that roughly 60 percent of adult community college students need remedial education.
“Sometimes when these students come back to school, they have forgotten things they learned over a decade ago, so this grant will help give the money to get them the education they need to gain more workplace skills,” Baldwin said.
Waite said a grant to Grand Rapids Community College would create better career pathways programs to low-skilled adults and address basic skill needs.
“If we receive the grant, we are going to expand our counseling programs for adult education,” he said.
Waite plans for the college to “coach” adults through their selected academic programs.
“With the funds we should be able to hire some coaches to help the students all the way until graduation. These coaches will be able assist them with figuring out where their skill sets are what can be a good pathway for them,” he said.
Grant money will be dispersed in March 2013. New programs will start then and will continue for two years, Waite said.

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