Education is the roadmap to success, but for far too many this journey is riddled with obstacles.

In 2010 the GR Press reported that 83% of children starting Kindergarten from the urban core communities were not ready to learn; this reality launched the work of the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, and in 2013 Steepletown opened its first preschool classroom. Today Steepletown has four preschool classrooms, and yet the focus still remains on helping their parents develop the skills needed to gain better paying, more meaningful employment.

Further down this journey are those who have dropped out of school. The number of young adults not completing high school in Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities is still quite significant.  For the 2014-15 school year, Grand Rapids Public Schools had only a 56% graduation rate. Its dropout rate was at 18.37%; it should also be noted that the percentage of Seniors who were considered “off-track” but still continuing was 23.4%.  A couple of the neighborhood charter highschools also showed challenging numbers.

The Michigan Virtual Charter Academy showed a dropout rate of 50%; the actual count, or 182 students, was actually more than for GRPS, who had 151 students drop out.  Nexus Academy had a dropout rate of 26.47%. (This data comes from the MI School Data, a service of the Center for Educational Performance and Information). These numbers demonstrate the significant number of young adults who have not completed highschool.

Completing the GED means a lifetime of higher earnings and access to many more careers.