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Essential workers get high school diplomas thanks to state program

Kent ISD – Orbra Coleman has made it a mission to make people aware of a high-school completion program available through the state’s Futures for Frontliners program — an effort that provides free community college tuition to essential workers. 

“So right now, I am just trying to let everyone know this is available and I am encouraging them to apply,” said Coleman, a career and technical education navigator for adult education at Kent ISD.

But there’s more.

There is usually a $25 registration fee for the GED classes, but that is being waived, and the $37.50 fee for each of four tests — language arts, writing, math, science and social studies — will be covered by Futures for Frontliners. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

If eligible, students who complete the GED program have the option to continue in a job training program or study at a community college such as Grand Rapids Community College.

“This is really a great opportunity because it is a four-year window,” Coleman said. “A person who is approved could finish their GED in a year and still have three years to complete an associate degree at a local community college.”

Since opening the program on Sept.10, the state has received 2,800 applications for the High School Completion Pathway. In Kent County, there have been 410 applications, and the Kent ISD program has at least 79 approved applications for the GED program. 

To be eligible for the Futures for Frontliners High School Completion Pathway, which is being overseen by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth Office of Adult Education, those who apply must be at least 18 years old and have worked 11 of 13 weeks between April 1-June 30. They also must have been considered an essential worker, and cannot currently be enrolled in a high school program or already have a  high school diploma or equivalent certification.
For more about the Futures for Frontliners High School Completion Pathway, visit www.michigan.gov/Frontliners/ or contact Coleman at 616-530-7500, ext. 1205 or by email, orbracoleman@kentisd.org.

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma covers Kent ISD and Godwin Heights. She was born in the Detroit area but grew up in Brighton where she attended Hartland Public Schools. The salutatorian for the Class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism and minored in photography and German. She expanded her color palette to include orange and black as both her daughters graduated from Byron Center Public Schools; maroon and white for Aquinas College where her daughter studies nursing and also brought back blue and maize for Grand Rapids Community College where her youngest daughter currently is studying music. Read Joanne's full bio

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