West Side Education Initiative
Recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Engagement Initiative Award
Over an intensive 19-month period, students in the Accelerated Liberal Studies Leadership Program complete their degrees in the context of deep community partnerships. Faculty and students in the Grand Rapids cohort work closely with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation Challenge Scholars program, Harrison Park School, and the West Grand Neighborhood Organization to develop skills leaders use and communities require. These include listening, dialogue, understanding context, and prototyping and testing interventions. Now in its third year, this multi-course partnership has led to ongoing student initiatives, such as a Walking School Bus program and Housing Resource Kits in both English and Spanish. Learners are transformed from consuming knowledge to co-producing knowledge and are empowered as local change-agents and civic leaders.