The "Why" Behind Challenge Scholars

Challenge Scholars is about creating opportunity for students and families who work hard for their future—it's that simple.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and organizations across the community saw families working hard to help their kids graduate from high school. We saw parents staying up late with their children working on class projects. We saw students staying after school for tutoring to get ahead.

But we also saw that no matter how hard they worked, some families simply did not have the resources to send their children to college.

The hard work of these families is what inspired Challenge Scholars. But Challenge Scholars is not simply free money for college or career training—it's the opportunity for students to become leaders in our community. Earning a college degree or certificate does more than fulfill dreams for students and families; it benefits the entire community. The city and region grow when we have a more equitable and skilled workforce. But even more so, we grow when everyone has access to the resources necessary to achieve in our community. Challenge Scholars is the bridge to those resources.

We also realize that success depends on more than just what happens in the classroom. These families and students need support outside of the classroom, too, which is why we started the Challenge Scholars Champions program. This program works with organizations that already partner with families to offer additional resources and support. These organizations include folks like the Westside Collaborative, Kent School Services Network, Boys and Girls Club, and many others. By working alongside these trusted organizations, parents and students are supported both inside and outside the schools.

Supporting these newly empowered students will ultimately support a more equitable city. That is Challenge Scholars.