Grant Expiration Doesn’t Stop Calvin

September 15, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Though a three-year federal grant supporting Calvin College’s work in the Burton Heights neighborhood in Grand Rapids is about expire, the neighbors aren’t concerned.

In fact, on Thursday, Sept. 30, they and Calvin officials plan a modest celebration because the college has decided to continue supporting many of the Calvin@Burton Heights projects originally underwritten by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.

The celebration will be an open house from 4-6 p.m. at the partnership headquarters,

1725 S. Division Ave.

The partnership, now in its third year, came into being thanks to a grant of almost $400,000 from the Office of University Partnerships of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that has supported college involvement in the program.

The partnership brought together Calvin and the Garfield Development Corp., the Garfield Park Neighborhoods Association, the Burton Heights Business Association, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Neighborhood Business Specialists Program, BuchananElementary School, the Burton Health Clinic and Health Intervention Services.

According to Carol Rienstra, Calvin’s director of community relations, the original idea for the partnership was Garfield Development’s request that the college make a stronger commitment to the kind of community service it was already doing.

“We have students, staff and faculty involved all over Grand Rapids,” Rienstra said, “but (through this partnership) we were challenged to be more focused and to get to know a particular neighborhood’s agencies and people at a deeper level.”

The plan, as mapped out by the Burton partnership team, concentrated on health, education, community organizing and housing and business district development.

Calvin nursing students worked with Health Intervention Services and the Cherry Street Health Services’ Burton Clinic and also taught basic health and nutrition classes at BurtonSchool and other locations.

Calvin computer science professors and students created a computer curriculum for BuchananSchool fourth-graders and offered computer classes to the neighborhood as part of the education focus.

A Calvin geography professor, Henk Aay, and his students mapped traffic patterns and made recommendations for traffic-calming measures as part of the contribution from BurtonHeights to the Grand Rapids’ master plan.

Though the grant is expiring, Calvin will continue its computer lab and courses and Calvin nursing students will continue their service in the BurtonHeights neighborhood.

Meanwhile — thanks to a new $179,000 Teacher Quality Grant from the Michigan Department of Education — Calvin faculty will work with Buchanan School and Potter’s House Christian School to teach the Four Blocks literacy model, the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ adopted method of teaching reading and writing.

Rienstra said she also looks forward to Calvin instruction in Spanish to non-Hispanic BurtonHeights residents who want to better communicate with their neighbors.     

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