GRIL Partnership Benefits Kuyper Students

It was while coaching basketball at Potter’s House High School that Kuyper business
leadership professor Marc Andreas first got a chance to see the impact of a faith-based organization called Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders or GRIL.

Created by alumni of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative in 2004. GRIL offers a variety of leadership development programs, and Andreas saw the difference GRIL was making in the lives of some of his players in the areas of not just leadership but also community development and their own personal maturation process.

“I looked more into their curriculum and saw that it aligned with Kuyper’s values,” he recalled. “I wanted to find a way to bring this wonderful opportunity to even more young people.”

Working with Denise Fase, the longtime director at GRIL, saw the development of a course called “Leadership, Empowerment and Community Development.”

The course has been taught as a dual enrollment class at Potter’s House High School, is scheduled to be taught soon at Grand Rapids Christian High School and was offered this semester to Kuyper students for the first time ever.

Fase taught the course and brought in a variety of community leaders as guest speakers for the students’ benefit, including GRIL alumni Erin Mieskowski (who spoke on personal assessments) and Tyreece Guyton, Scott Hofman and Ke-Shawn Smith (diversity and cross-cultural leadership).

Andreas said the course has been a good fit for the Kuyper curriculum.

“As a three-credit course, it nicely fits with students who want to get Kuyper’s new 15-credit minor in Christian Community Development,” he said. “It’s also an excellent course for students from all majors as an elective to help them explore their own personal leadership skills while seeing how they can make a positive impact integrating into their own community as well.”

For Fase, who has an undergraduate degree from Calvin and a master’s from Cornerstone, and spent 17 years working with young people at Camp Tall Turf before becoming the co-director and founder of GRIL in 2006, the partnership with Kuyper has been nothing but positive.

“GRIL believes that leadership is influence plus responsibility,” she said. “Everyone has influence, and when leaders know who they are in the context of whose they are – God’s child – then things change. The course (with Kuyper) is a practical leadership course that equips students to live as change-makers in their homes, their neighborhoods, their churches and their communities.”

Andreas added that early reviews of this first offering have been terrific.

“I’ve heard students say they love this course because it helps open up their eyes to a larger view of opportunities they can do to get more involved in their very own communities,” he said. “It helps empower young people to move from being observers to active participants in their communities to work for justice and positive change that aligns with Biblical values.”

Andreas said it is likely that the course with GRIL will be offered again to Kuyper students with further details still being finalized.

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