GRPS school is finalist for $10M prize


Students at the Grand Rapids Public Museum School examine "an artifact" to compare it with a modern version and "predict a futuristic version." Photo via

A special public school in town is in the running for a $10-million prize that it would use to open another location.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum School, which pursues place-based learning through the resources and exhibits of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, was recently selected as one of 50 finalists for a $50-million contest, XQ: The Super School Project.

The project, which launched last September, is an open call to re-design the idea of high school for a 21st-century model.

The contest is looking to split $50 million between five schools over the next five years, with each school getting about $10 million, according to the project’s website.

“At every stage of XQ: The Super School Project contest — from the first submission of concepts to the final submission of applications — we have found ourselves awed by the quality of your ideas, the depth of your dedication and the breadth of your accomplishments,” said Russlynn Ali, CEO, XQ: The Super School Project.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum School is a collaboration between Grand Rapids Public Schools, or GRPS, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Valley State University and the City of Grand Rapids, said Chris Hanks, principal of the museum school.

The museum school team, which consists of about 60 people, learned of the grant competition last September and began its application process.

It has already been through three rounds of applications, which asked comprehensive questions about the school’s plans, facilities and technologies. The applications also asked about how the museum school planned to work as a team to include student voices.

The museum school, which opened last fall, is located within the Van Andel Museum Center in Grand Rapids, at 272 Pearl St. NW. The location houses students in grades six through eight.

If it wins the grant, the museum school would use the grant money to develop a new location for grades nine through 12. That new location would be in Grand Rapids, at 54 Jefferson Ave. SE, Hanks said.

GRPS’s museum school was selected out of about 800 applicants.

Being a finalist is a “huge” deal for GRPS, said Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent, GRPS.

“Our museum school truly exemplifies the success of our GRPS Transformation Plan,” she said. “Being named as finalist for the XQ: Super School Project gives much-deserved national attention to our innovative, collaborative efforts to provide high quality public school choices.” 

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