By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
A total of 19 colleges were awarded with “Leader College distinction” today and Grand Rapids Community College was one of them.
Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping minority and low-income community college students earn a certificate or degree, awards this designation to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps.
“This is really validation of the good work that we’ve been doing for the last five or six years to help students achieve success,” said GRCC President Steven Ender.
GRCC was given this award based on its use of data of policy and practice to help students improve on skills like employability and overall economic growth.
In the 2009-10 academic year, 27.8 percent of students completed English requirements by their second year at GRCC. After the FastTrack program took its course, that number almost doubled to 45.4 percent.
The three-week FastTrack program has about a 79 percent completion rate and so far 1,520 students have been recruited into the summer program since its beginning in 2012.
“FastTrack has been a game changer for students that require developmental education,” Ender said. “We’ve been able to help hundreds of students bypass developmental programs. We’ve seen an increase the last two or three years of around 1,900 students receiving associate’s degrees or certificates to 2,400.”
According to a press release sent out this morning, the 2015 Leader Colleges “are making strides in the national movement to increase student completion and close achievement gaps.”
“I think the faculty and staff should feel really proud to receive this recognition at a national level,” Ender said. “It’s really validation of the hard work we have done to help our students achieve their goals at GRCC.”
The 2015 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges are:
Bakersfield College, Bakersfield, CA
Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY
Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham, WA
Lorain County Community College, Elyria, OH
Century College, White Bear Lake, MN
Muskegon Community College, Muskegon, MI
College of Southern Nevada, North Las Vegas, NV
North Lake College, Irving, TX
Columbus State Community College, Columbus, OH
Paris Junior College, Paris, TX
Cumberland County College, Vineland, NJ
Southwestern Oregon Community College, Coos Bay, OR
Delta College, University Center, MI
St. Clair County Community College, Port Huron, MI
Gaston College, Dallas, NC
St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, FL
West Los Angeles College, Culver City, CA
Jefferson Community & Technical College, Louisville, KY
Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, MI
Sean P. Mulhall contributed to this article.