Promise Zone scholarships provide free GRCC education to 251 students

Teresa Weatherall Neal, center, chairperson of the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority board, stands with GRCC President Bill Pink, far right, and students of Ottawa Hills High School. Courtesy Grand Rapids Promise Zone

Grand Rapids students who received Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarships started their first semester at Grand Rapids Community College this fall.

The scholarship was awarded to 251 students who live in the city of Grand Rapids and graduated from one of the city’s 24 public, public charter or private high schools.

The scholarship covered students’ tuition for up to 60 credit hours to earn an associate degree, program certification or complete a job training.

“It was just one year ago that the Promise Zone board came together for the first time to begin the process of envisioning what a promise scholarship could look like in Grand Rapids,” said Teresa Weatherall Neal, chairperson of the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority board. “Because of the dedication of the board, the 24 participating high schools, GRCC and the funding community, students from Grand Rapids are now attending GRCC tuition-free. This opportunity really is a game changer for our community’s students and families.”

Eligible students have five years to access the funds from the time they graduate high school, and once they are enrolled, they must take at least six credits per semester. Students who opt to attend a different college or university can still use the Promise Zone scholarship as a guest student during the summer semesters.

“We’re proud of our strong start and hope to see Promise Zone recipients continue to enroll at GRCC,” said Evan Macklin, Promise Zone director. “We want to make this scholarship easily accessible to all city of Grand Rapids seniors so we can continue to support students and strengthen our city through higher education.”

Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarships still are available for eligible students this year because GRCC has a variety of late-starting 10-week and seven-week courses for the fall 2020 semester. Its job-training programs begin in October and December, and GRCC’s winter semester begins Jan. 11.

Students eligible for the Promise Zone Scholarship must meet the following criteria:

  1. Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  2. Enrolled at an eligible Grand Rapids high school
  3. Graduated or planning to graduate from an eligible Grand Rapids high school

For more information, visit or contact the Promise Zone director at

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