By Monica Scott | email@example.com
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Cornerstone University has teamed up with Mel Trotter Ministries to provide a degree program on-site at the ministry for staff, graduates of its programs, and the community.
In addition to the degree program, Cornerstone will provide a 10 percent tuition discount for specifically for Mel Trotter staff members and program graduates, including job readiness, substance abuse and housing readiness.
By incorporating both a tuition discount and hosting a program at Mel Trotter, 225 Commerce Ave. SW, Cornerstone's Professional & Graduate Studies (PGS) division hopes to make education even more accessible to all.
Officials say the partnership between the independent, nondenominational Christian University, and the ministry committed to the rescue and restoration of anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness, is a good match.
"We wanted to have a cohort that meets on-site and to tailor the curriculum to be Mel Trotter-friendly, more conscious of poverty and more conscious of family dynamics," said Mike Ward, director of enrollment operations and community development at PGS.
Dennis Van Kampen, executive director of Mel Trotter Ministries, said the organization is in the process of gauging the interest of its staff and program members about participating in an associate degree program.
"We hope this can be an opportunity for our guests (those enrolled in programs and services) to really change their life and do something they thought was for someone else,'' said Van Kampen, about education being a pathway to earning a living wage.
"Our vision is through the power of Christ to bring an end to homelessness one life at a time.''
Kacey Spencer, a PGS enrollment counselor, said she wants to be able to tell people that it's never too late and that they are just as capable of graduating as anybody else.
"This partnership is a way to help people earn their degree who maybe wouldn't be able to do so otherwise," she said.
Van Kampen said it is another tool in their tool belt as they seek to not only demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ to all experiencing homelessness but also help them move forward with their goals even beyond ending their homelessness.
He said the ministry would work with students and staff to acquire work study or potentially scholarships to offset the cost and avoid student debt.
Ward anticipates a cohort beginning in fall 2018. He said it is a multifaceted approach.
"For the staff at Mel Trotter, it's about giving them knowledge so that they can better serve,'' he said. "With the program graduates, it's about eliminating any barrier for them to go back to school and for them to achieve their goals."
James Link, executive director of enrollment for Cornerstone, said preliminary interest appears to be in an associate's degree in human services. He said Cornerstone would aim to launch a program with a cohort of at least 15 people.