Surrounding students with supports beginning in sixth grade, and promising a free college or trade school education upon graduation, Challenge Scholars is opening up a brand new world of possibilities to thousands of future Grand Rapids students. The comprehensive plan has identified five focus areas — academic achievement, school attendance, parent engagement, scholarships and big dreams — through which it will change the game. But Challenge Scholars is also committed to be ever-evolving, always learning and using data judiciously to measure success and make decisions.
The program — which enrolled its first class of Challenge Scholars in 2014 — is a component of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, which is aiming to increase the number of first-generation college-goers who successfully complete a college degree or high quality credential.
A group of 400 donors has raised more than $33.6 million in its “Rise With Us Campaign” and organizers are looking for another $30 million in phase two.
“People want tangible results. So we want to be able to provide that so that we can raise the remaining amount of money that can permanently endow this,” said Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.