Leveraging Partnerships and Funding to Drive Innovation in Education

Dr. Charles Lepper, President of Grand Rapids Community College

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From capital budgets to strategic initiatives from federal and state governments, to grants and industry support, educators have countless potential funding opportunities to keep their programs up to date.

Grand Rapids Community College, led by President Dr. Charles Lepper, is putting many of these funding opportunities to work for the benefit of their students. Hear how the college has build a strong partnership with Gentex (among other employers) that has benefitted both parties. Learn how the college is working with the state of Michigan's many workforce initiatives, leveraging funding available through the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and others.

From curriculum enhancements to workforce development initiatives, gain insight into how partnerships propel institutions toward greater relevance in today's job market.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • The role of partnerships and funding in educational innovation.
  • How Grand Rapids Community College tailors programs through industry collaboration.
  • Innovative financial strategies for educational outcomes.
  • The importance of adapting education to meet industry needs.
  • The impact of third-party credentials on workforce readiness.

Quotable Moments:

"Be flexible with your plans. Take everything as an opportunity and learn from it and recognize that your path is not as narrow or forward as you think it is."

"Students like to see what they're doing is relevant and that it matters and that it leads to something."

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Partnerships help colleges stay relevant in this changing world of work: Collaborating with industry giants like Gentex, Grand Rapids Community College tailors its programs to meet industry demands, ensuring students receive relevant training for today's job market. Through initiatives like the Michigan EV Jobs Academy, the college provides specialized training, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world industry needs.
  2. Find funding sources, and use them to your advantage: Michigan's workforce development initiatives, such as the Michigan New Jobs Training Program, exemplify how effective funding allocation enhances educational outcomes, providing students with valuable skills and credentials for career advancement. By leveraging partnerships with other community colleges and aligning with state goals like the Sixty by 30 initiative, GRCC maximizes the impact of funding to benefit students across the state.
  3. EV technology is impacting the workforce across all of Michigan: Grand Rapids Community College's focus on Electric Vehicle (EV) training programs underscores the importance of preparing students for emerging industries, ensuring they are equipped with the skills needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving job market. By offering courses like the Battery Boot Camp and integrating EV curriculum into existing programs, GRCC prepares students for high-demand careers in the automotive and technology sectors.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with the Grand Rapids Community College:

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