Colleges share grant for civic engagement


Aquinas College in Grand Rapids is a Catholic liberal arts school, founded in 1886. Photo via

A trio of local colleges will share a grant from a foundation to help students and their schools partner with the community.

Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Aquinas College said last week that each school will get a portion of the $65,000 grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

The grant will go toward creating and supporting a two-year Engaged Departments Initiative, which is a cross-institutional approach to link academic departments from the three institutions to “facilitate greater impact on excellent education and connection to community.”

The initiative is designed to increase retention and graduation rates among students, prepare them for leadership and provide community organizations “more opportunities to become full partners” with the schools.

GVSU, GRCC and Aquinas will partner with Michigan Campus Compact, a collation of about 38 college presidents working to help students become engaged citizens through campus-supported opportunities and activities.

The initiative will launch in January and be rolled out in several phases.

“High-quality community-based learning allows students to apply what they learn in class to solve real-world problems and improves their creative and problem solving skills,” said Diana Sieger, president, Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

“We are thrilled to support these institutions of higher education as they discover ways to integrate community-based learning into curriculum and look forward to seeing its impact on our community.”

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