Grand Rapids Community College students to receive travel grant

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Grand Rapids Community College's Study Away program sent students to Spain in 2019. Courtesy Grand Rapids Community College

Up to 25 students from underserved communities will be able to obtain passports to study abroad.

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) partnered with the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) American Passport Project to provide passports for up to 25 students to study abroad. 

The program, now in its second year, aims to increase participation and diversity in study-abroad programs by enabling all students to take part in international study experiences. 

GRCC is one of 40 colleges and universities selected to take part in this year’s grants. The college will choose 25 students from its TRIO Student Support Services program to participate in the program. 

TRIO Student Support Services provides academic assistance, financial guidance, tutoring and other services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students with disabilities and first-generation students who are underrepresented in higher education. 

“A passport is an essential tool of mobility for our students,” said Anna Maria Clark, academic adviser for GRCC’s TRIO program. “So many current events around the world today continue to show us that we live in a global society, and lack of experience within our global world will only continue to perpetuate our world’s inability to work together to solve problems. 

“A passport, learning a new language, and (studying) abroad go hand in hand in providing our students with essential experiences they, in turn, will be able to apply to their studies and professional lives.”

In the U.S., a passport for an adult costs $165, money not readily available to students from all backgrounds. 

The IIE grant will give GRCC $4,125 to purchase passports for TRIO students. 

In addition to the grant, AAA Kentwood-Grand Rapids also committed to providing 25 sets of passport photos for free to the 25 GRCC students.

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, GRCC is planning to restart its Study Away program. Past students in the program have been able to travel to countries such as Spain, Costa Rica, Greece and France to expand their knowledge of topics such as health care, literature and culture. 

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