photo of bryan navarro

In November 2016, Michigan State University joined a Grand Rapids-area community initiative to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups entering and graduating from Michigan colleges.

In November 2016, Michigan State University joined a Grand Rapids-area community initiative to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups entering and graduating from Michigan colleges.

The To College Through College initiative is a collaboration between the city of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools, more than 20 community organizations in West Michigan and 10 higher education institutions across the state. The goal is to increase college enrollment and graduation for all Grand Rapids-area students, but particularly for first-generation students and people of color. To reach this goal, the initiative offers a variety of services, including financial assistance, scholarships and one-on-one support to guide students to college admittance and through degree attainment. These services are offered at the T2C Studio in the main Grand Rapids Public Library.

The T2C Studio, which opened in November 2016, recently announced that it has served its 1000th student.  Bryan Navarro, the 1000th student, contacted the T2C Studio seeking college assistance after receiving a flyer about the T2C Studio at his high school graduation rehearsal.  Specifically, Navarro was interested in obtaining assistance regarding enrollment at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and learning more about the different between a college degree and certification.

Navarro attended nine different high schools before graduating from the Grand Rapids Learning Center in 2017.  He is a first-generation college student and plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice.  He has successfully enrolled at GRCC and will begin classes during winter semester of 2017-2018.  With the help of GRCC’s studio time staff, the T2C Studio offered Navarro guidance in declaring his track/major; navigating the enrollment process, including taking the college entry test; connecting with GRCC’s criminal justice department; and enrolling in classes.

“I’m very happy I found a place that can help me with the college process and keep me inspired along the way,” Navarro said.

TCTC is working hand-in-hand with community partners to increase the number of Grand Rapids Public Schools students who earn a college degree from 18 percent to 40 percent.

“Joining the TCTC initiative extends our connection in Grand Rapids to increase the pipeline of successful undergraduate students,” said R. Sekhar Chivukula, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of undergraduate studies. “The commitment builds upon our dedication to the learning and graduation success of all of our students. It will be accomplished in collaboration with our unique Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative, which provides holistic academic, health and wellness, residential and intercultural support to all undergraduate students.”

The initiative is unique by bringing together city government, public schools and a wide variety of higher education institutions. The partnership with MSU stems from the university’s land grant commitment to serve the state of Michigan, Chivukula said.

In addition to MSU, other higher education institutions partnering with TCTC are: Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Northwood University and Western Michigan University.