Category Archives: In the Community

GRCC In the News, 8-18-17

WOS Launches Learning Center in Detroit, Orletta Caldwell to Lead

Aug. 17, 2017;

DETROIT, Aug. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS)the leading non-profit organization geared towards aligning individuals from underrepresented groups with transformative career opportunities is expanding its impact as a resource for individuals living in underserved communities through establishing a new learning center in Detroit, Michigan.

… Orletta Caldwell, a Detroit native who has over 30 years of administrative and leadership experience, will serve as the coordinator of the new learning center; overseeing all of its operations. Over the course of her career, she has held positions at Josten’s Inc., Camp Barber, and Grand Rapids Community College.

(This press release ran in many media outlets.)

GRCC In the News, 8-17-17

Man sentenced to life in prison for killing woman on GRCC campus

Aug. 16, 2017; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A 20-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison with no parole Wednesday, Aug. 16, for fatally stabbing a homeless woman.

Marcus Bivins approached Jeanne Huntoon, 34, near a parking ramp on the Grand Rapids Community College campus at about 2:30 a.m. April 30, 2016, police said, later stabbing and beating the woman to death.

Street preacher battles two city ordinances, says they stifle free speech

Aug. 15, 2017; WZZM

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – If you’re reciting scripture on a city sidewalk and someone complains, are you breaking the law?

… (Stephen) Nylen is outreach and evangelism chair at New City Fellowship OPC, 700 Burton Street SE, according to his Facebook page. He studied at Grace Bible College and Grand Rapids Community College and attended Ottawa Hills High School.


ESL/CNC Machining program wins award

Luis Hernandez, wearing safety goggles on top of his head, smiles.
Luis Hernandez

A GRCC program that combines English as a Second Language coursework with technical skills training recently received an award from a state organization.

The Michigan Association of Continuing Education and Training gave its 2017 Special Project Award to GRCC’s ESL/CNC Precision Machining program. GRCC teamed up with the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and the Literacy Center of West Michigan to develop the program, which launched in spring 2016.

Julie Parks, GRCC’s executive director of Workforce Training, said the course directly addresses two concerns: area employers’ need for skilled workers and high unemployment rates for people with only basic proficiency in English.

“In West Michigan, although the unemployment rate is about 3 percent, there are many neighborhoods in our community that have higher unemployment rates or have significant numbers of individuals who are in minimum- or low-wage jobs,” she said.

“We knew that if we could find a way to get individuals from these neighborhoods into GRCC skilled trades programs, we could make a difference.”

Roberto Torres, the Hispanic Center’s executive director, organized a community meeting to discuss training possibilities. Those attending were interested in CNC precision machining skills. Chad Patton, the Literacy Center of West Michigan’s customized workplace English manager, brought expertise in occupational English skill integration to work with the GRCC team, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided funding.

Of the 15 people who entered the program in spring 2016, 14 completed it and all received either new jobs or jobs with higher wages.

“Our instructional team from the college and the Literacy Center worked closely with our career coach/navigators and job developers,” said John VanElst, GRCC Pathways to Success program manager. “We learned when to offer the training and what skill sets to focus on. This program helps individuals accelerate learning English while, at the same time, gaining valuable workplace skills.

The ESL/CNC Machining program continues and two other programs have been added: ESL/Certified Nursing Assistant and ESL/Construction.

Luis Hernandez admits he was nervous about signing up for the ESL/CNC Machining program.

“I thought to myself: ‘What have I gotten into?’” he said. “But I really liked the program. The class was nice and small. We all worked easily together, and the instructor was so helpful and supportive.”

“This program changed my life. It opened doors for me and now I am a machine apprentice. I feel like now I have a career, not just a job.”

Parks says the program wouldn’t have been possible without community collaboration: “This was a great opportunity for us to work with some outstanding community partners to bring all the pieces together and, with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we were able to accomplish it!”

GRCC In the News, 8-15-17

Race initiative leader: Lack of progress exposed

Aug. 14, 2017; WOOD TV

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan groups focused on equality are speaking out as racially-charged protests continue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

… “It was something we saw that we did not want to look at,” Dr. Bill Pink, co-chair of the new initiative and president of Grand Rapids Community College, said of racism. “It was ugly. We want to believe that we’re beyond that.”

Chamber announces ATHENA winner

Aug. 10, 2017; Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local chamber of commerce has selected a health insurance executive as the recipient of its annual award geared toward women in leadership roles.

… The other 2017 ATHENA Award finalists were Lori Burgess, executive director Kent County Girls on the Run; Carol Van Andel, executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation; Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, CEO of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative; and Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.

… 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award finalists

… Lorena Aguayo-Marquez, DGRI

… Alyssa Veneklase, Gold Coast Doulas LLC

(Lorena Aguayo-Marquez works in Academic Outreach; Nkechy Ekere Ezeh and Alyssa Veneklase are GRCC alumnae.)

Preschool hosts workshop for in-home child-care providers

GRCC’s Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning Laboratory is hosting a workshop for in-home child-care providers on August 17.

Learn about the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Care Program requirements that take effect in October. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions about the new Kid Kare Program.

The free session runs 6:30-8 p.m. at the preschool, 210 Lyon St. NE. RSVPs are appreciated, but not required; contact Kathleen Neumann at (616) 234-4004 or