University, partners celebrate opening of outreach center in Battle Creek

President Mantella at podium gesturing to table of panelists
President Philomena V. Mantella gives remarks during an event to celebrate the opening of the GVSU Battle Creek Outreach Center January 7.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
people in hallway
People tour the outreach center.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
woman at podium
LaJune Montgomery Tabron, WKKF president and CEO, gives remarks during an event to celebrate the opening of the GVSU Battle Creek Outreach Center January 7.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
five women standing
From left are Jean Nagelkerk, GVSU vice provost for health; LaJune Montgomery Tabron, WKKF president and CEO; Maria Cimitile, GVSU provost; Philomena Mantella, GVSU president; and Kim Carter, BCPS superintendent.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
two women talking
Pictured are Paula Lancaster, left, and Jean Nagelkerk, the principle investigators for the Kellogg Foundation grant.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
outside of building, with GV logo on door
Outside the outreach center.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski

Leaders from Grand Valley, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Battle Creek Public Schools celebrated January 7 the opening of the university's outreach center and a collaborative effort to increase regional access to educational support resources.

The GVSU Battle Creek Regional Outreach Center is an initiative stemming from a five-year, $15.5 million grant from WKKF to Grand Valley. Staff at the center, 8 Michigan Ave. W, can assist area students and residents with college and career exploration, and provide help with federal aid forms and college applications.

President Philomena V. Mantella said the university's presence in Battle Creek extends beyond its physical office space.

"I would encourage people to not think about the university's impact as they might have in the past, in terms of acreage," Mantella said. "In today's digital age, our impact is greater than the outreach center. Think about Grand Valley as a small but mighty partner to help build this community."

LaJune Montgomery Tabron, WKKF president and CEO, said the outreach center will aid in job creation, talent development and a "culture of vitality" in Battle Creek. The event was held at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation building and tours of the outreach center followed.

Tabron said since the grant announcement in May, Grand Valley faculty and staff members partnered with BCPS to offer professional development programs and mentorship to teachers, as well as beginning a teacher education pipeline program for classroom assistants. BCPS middle and high school students have attended Grand Valley summer camps focused on STEM and health care fields. 

"We want to ensure that all of our children will be given the opportunity to thrive," she said.

Provost Maria Cimitile said faculty and staff members from the College of Education and other university departments are dedicated to providing Battle Creek partners with a "high-touch experience" incorporating innovative programming and technology.

"My colleagues are walking hand-in-hand with BCPS to replicate what we know is a high-quality experience," Cimitile said.

Many BCPS students would be the first in their families to attend college. Kim Carter, BCPS superintendent, said the center is one aspect of the grant that helps disrupt any barriers to higher education by providing resources, advising and assistance with college applications and federal aid forms. 

"When our schools are strong, our community is strong," Carter said.

More information about the center is online.