Foundation Awards $574,275 in Scholarships to Local Students

Half of awards go to first generation college students

This fall, 539 local students will start a new year of college knowing they have the support of their community as recipients of scholarships from Grand Rapids Community Foundation.  This year’s investment in students totals $574,275, an increase of $16,000 from last year.

The Community Foundation, along with 61 community volunteers who serve on its various selection committees, processed 1,238 scholarship applications this spring.  The Foundation was encouraged to see a continued rise in applications and awards made to first generation college students—those whose parent(s) have not pursued a college degree. 

Recently, the Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved recommendations to place more emphasis on assisting first generation and low-income students with the financial aid and scholarship process. As a result, Ruth Bishop, education program officer has taken a leadership role in the establishment of a local college access network called KCCAN (Kent County College Access Network), part of MCAN (Michigan College Access Network).  Bishop also presented college readiness, financial aid and scholarship application assistance sessions at 20 local events during the 2009-2010 school year.

The additional outreach seems to have paid off with 54 percent of this year’s scholarship awards going to first generation college students—a 17 percent increase since 2005. Additionally, 45 percent of this year’s recipients have family incomes of $30,000 or less.

“To help our community continue to grow and prosper we aim to help local families change the cycle of low-education attainment.  From research, we know that communities with higher concentrations of well-educated people have more households with incomes of $75,000 and up and fewer households with incomes at or below the poverty level.  We see the Community Foundation as a catalyst to ensure that the next generation of Grand Rapidians is more well-educated and ready to lead knowledge-based industries,” Bishop said.

Additional points of interest regarding this year’s scholarship awards include:

  • 91 percent of scholarships are going to Michigan colleges and universities.
  • Over 45 percent of the awards are going to West Michigan colleges and universities.
  • Grand Valley State University students are receiving the most support with $85,900 in scholarships.
  • Top areas of study for recipients include health care, law/social science and business.
  • 63 percent of recipients are female and 37 percent are male.
  • 27 percent of the students receiving a scholarship represent diverse populations.
  • 28 percent of high school seniors awarded scholarships are Grand Rapids Public School graduates.

To learn more about Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s scholarship program, please visit  You may also call Roberta King, APR or Amanda St. Pierre at 616.454.1751.