Celebrating the Class of 2020!

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Celebrating the first class of Challenge Scholars

Union High School Class of 2020 has been looking forward to graduation for years. Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been eagerly anticipating this moment alongside their friends, families and community cheerleaders.

Six years ago, with the support of many partners, the Community Foundation launched Challenge Scholars. This college readiness program provides wraparound supports for students and covers costs of higher education. We met the Class of 2020 when they were sixth graders in 2014. Now they are ready to cross the (virtual) graduation stage.  

The final weeks of their senior year looked different than anyone anticipated. Despite that, let’s come together celebrate their successes. Read messages from the Class of 2020’s families, school staff, donor partners and community members at challengescholars.org/classof2020. Then submit your own words of encouragement!

Graduation is an incredible milestone in their journey toward post-secondary success. On June 5, Union High School is hosting a virtual graduation. We’ll be there on our Facebook page with a watch party. Will you join us and celebrate this graduating class?

Union High School Virtual Graduation

Friday, June 5, 2020

7:00pm – Grand Rapids Community Foundation Facebook or cable channel 27-902

Challenge Scholars, we are here for you today as you celebrate graduation. And we will be here for you tomorrow as you journey forward into your next steps. Read below for some excitement and encouragement for the Class of 2020—from their community, donor partners and school staff. 

These students are surrounded by support as they pursue their dreams.

  • “As a retired educator, I am privileged to help young students make their way in the world. You, in turn, will be ready to help others. I am proud to be part of the Challenge Scholars program. You can do it!” Anne Rossi, Community Foundation donor partner
  • “I champion students and the Challenge Scholars because I know an education will make a major difference in their lives! I believe in their dreams and expect to hear great things in the future!” - Halima Ismail, School staff member

Challenge Scholars are the next generation to make positive change in West Michigan and the world.

  • “You did it! Continue to strive and do not get discouraged by the happenings of this world. We will overcome this together. Please know that we are extremely proud of all of you.” - Awilda Diaz, School staff member
  • “All students have enormous potential. They simply need the appropriate and timely guidance to make their journey more efficient and successful.” - Oliverio Covarrubias, Community member
  • They are our today, tomorrow and future.” - Tennille Harkness, Parent of a Challenge Scholar
  • “Becoming Challenge Scholars is a significant first step in your life. Keep up the good work, and think through the decisions you will have to make, for you are this great country's future.” - Rob Alt, Community Foundation donor partner

When a community comes together, anything is possible.

  • “You are proving that when we all work together (students, parents/guardians, teachers, staff, and community) we can assure educational attainment for ALL students. This is imperative for our community's future.” - Juan Olivarez, Community member
  • “As a graduate of the class of 2020, you already know what it means to overcome adversity and unexpected circumstances. So we want to encourage you to use that same tenacity to remain dedicated to your educational pursuits as you transition into your post-secondary education.” - Dave Emerson, Community Foundation donor partner
  • “Education, whether it is a new skill, college, trade, apprenticeship, is something that no one can ever take from you. It is a gift, it is necessary. By providing pathways to education and the support to make sure that all students know they are talented and can achieve, we are changing our future for the better.” - Adnoris G Torres, Community member