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Take away the fear of not being able to afford college and anything is possible. Knowing that there is a plan to pay for education after high school lets Challenge Scholars dream, explore and know that they are working hard for a bright future.

The Vision

  • Academics

    Challenge Scholars deserve the best education possible. We look at student data to find areas where students need extra support. Education coaches ensure teachers have access to the best and latest teaching methods, especially in math and reading.

  • Attendance

    There are many reasons students miss school—health problems, appointments, trouble with housing, childcare and more. Help is available right at school through Community School Coordinators. Caring staff help families access services when they need them.

  • Parent Involvement

    Parents are students' first teachers. With our school partners, we are working to increase parent communication and involvement inside and outside of school, so that parents can know and support what's happening in their child's education.

  • Exploration

    Students are invited to join in a variety of in-school, after-school and summer-time activities. Challenge Scholars Coordinators at schools help kids learn about college and career options, and expose families to a new world of possibilities.

  • Scholarships

    The first class of Challenge Scholars receiving a scholarship graduated from Union High in 2020. The students who follow them are already know that if they work hard and stay on track, a scholarship is waiting for them too.

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We Care About Challenge Scholars

Community Impact

It's good for students, families and the community.

Challenge Scholars does more than fulfill the dreams of students and families— it truly benefits our entire community by creating stronger, healthier and more diverse neighborhoods.

The city and region grow when we have a more equitable and skilled workforce. We grow when everyone has access to the resources necessary to achieve in our community. Challenge Scholars is the bridge to those resources.

Today, around 60 percent of jobs in Michigan require at least a two-year degree. Challenge Scholars is preparing students to meet this need. The Bureau of Labor Statistics links higher education to lower unemployment, greater income levels, and living a more healthy and satisfying life.

  • Union High School Students
    In Michigan, degree holders earn more than twice as much as high school graduates. Education fuels our students future as well as our community’s.
  • Future Challenge Scholars Studying
    Challenge Scholars will be part of the next generation of people who live, work, play, shop, lead and grow in Grand Rapids.

Our Progress

Measuring what matters and correcting our course

To be a Challenge Scholar, students must meet criteria for grades, attendance and behavior. If they stay in good standing, they are able to attend college or technical training tuition-free.

Behind the scenes, teachers and other Grand Rapids Public Schools staff meet regularly to review student data. They can see which students are on track and which ones are not meeting the requirements. They communicate with students and families about their progress. They also use this information to help students get back on track before too much time passes.

We report Challenge Scholars program progress publicly once a year. We do not report individual student progress—all information is reported by school and class. Parents can see their student's progress by signing in to the GRPS ParentVUE.


Invest in our students and our community today.