The project, supported by a $1.3 million grant from the U.S.
Department of Education's Office of Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services, will be guided by the University of
UT faculty will join colleagues at four Michigan community
colleges on Great Start for Higher Education, focusing on
helping early childhood teachers with associate degrees better
meet the needs of young children with disabilities and their
An advisory board -- comprised of Michigan experts, family
members of children with disabilities, graduates of community
college early childhood programs, representatives from state
agencies, and other early childhood and early childhood special
education professionals -- will guide the work.
“The Great Start for Higher Education project will help us
ensure our graduates are well-prepared to support each and every
young child and family,” said Rebecca Brinks, GRCC's
Child Development program director. “This project will also
enhance our program’s preparation for continued national
accreditation under new standards, which have a far greater
emphasis on issues of culture, language, equity, ability and
GRCC will be the first to participate, followed by Mott
Community College, Monroe County Community College, and a
yet-to-be-selected fourth program.
The GSHE team will provide intensive professional development
for GRCC colleagues related to their emphasis on evidence-based
practices for supporting children of diverse abilities,
cultures, languages, and life circumstances and their families.
UT faculty member Laurie Dinnebeil and national
consultant Camille Catlett, of the Frank Porter Graham
Child Development Institute in Chapel Hill, N.C., will
partner with Brinks as well as other campus and community
Catlett said GRCC was selected because of the nationally
accredited program's reputation and Brinks' leadership and
“GRCC is well-known as a high-quality program focusing on
preparing early childhood professionals to serve the Grand
Rapids' area's young children and families,” she said. “Dr.
Brinks' expertise in standards and accreditation will be vitally
important for our work moving forward.”
The grant is for $1,250,000 over five years starting in
January and is a competitive award based on peer review and
ranking of a national pool of applications.
Rapids Community College
has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for
more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers
degree courses, certification and training programs, and
workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on
GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations
throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance