Making College Accessible: the Kuyper Student WorkPlace Partnership
Kuyper College is pleased to announce a new program that seeks to make Christian higher education more accessible and affordable: the Kuyper WorkPlace™ Partnership. This innovative approach teams up with WorkPlace partners—local organizations that desire to make college a reality for all—to offer workplace learning for qualified students.
Beginning in the fall, students will earn a two or four-year degree in business leadership, while also gaining real-world work experience. Their degrees will merge classroom and workplace learning, building on a foundation of practical education and a holistic, biblical approach to work. Students will have the ability to study with a diverse cohort, rooted together in a Christian worldview.
Marc Andreas, professor of business leadership, directs the new program. “I was part of a task force in 2017,” he said, “and our goal was to brainstorm what God could possibly be calling Kuyper College to. We realized that there was a real need in West Michigan for affordable and accessible college.” The taskforce found that Paul Quinn College, a historically black college in the Dallas, Texas, area used a unique method for doing this and partnered with them to implement a similar program at Kuyper.
Like the program at Paul Quinn, the WorkPlace Partnership will join with businesses, such as Spectrum Health, Lumbermen’s and Notions Marketing, among others, in the Grand Rapids urban area to offer part-time, entry-level positions to its students. These positions will earn between $13 and $15 per hour, with a portion of the students’ earnings automatically applied toward their tuition. When these wages are added to federal and state aid, students will have the opportunity to graduate from Kuyper with little to no debt.
In addition, Kuyper professors will teach business leadership courses at the Center for Community Transformation, located on Madison Avenue. The Center is already experienced in successfully building a healthy community in urban Grand Rapids. “I like to call this a win-win-win program,” said Andreas, “because it’s a win for individuals who might not think a college education is available to them. Reaching a new group of students in the community is a win for Kuyper, and it’s a win for the employers who seek to build diversity in their workforce.”
“There will also be a monthly council, where employers and Kuyper discuss students’ progress. The goals are to provide a quality education and to integrate, as much as possible, their learning in the classroom and the workplace,” Andreas said. He also sees this as a way for Kuyper to further develop the business leadership program. “By building relationships with these businesses, we can learn which classes are most needed and potentially find new faculty members,” said Andreas.
Upon graduation from Kuyper, participants in the WorkPlace Partnership will receive a work transcript in addition to their academic transcript. Andreas noted, “They could submit this with a job application, and it will show areas of competency, annual reviews and employer ratings. It will help show that applicant is a dependable person, that they contribute well in the workplace, and work well with others.” He believes that this is a valuable aspect of the program, one that provides built-in work experience after leaving Kuyper.
But the most crucial part of the WorkPlace Partnership is that it empowers students to use their faith to impact their world. “We’re excited about building God’s kingdom and preparing students for life and ministry,” said Andreas. “Graduates will be able to live out the mission of Kuyper College by engaging in the world of business with a biblical framework and, in doing so, make a positive impact for the kingdom.”