GVSU receives federal grant to support degree-seeking veterans

GVL / Emily Frye 
Servicemen Calvin Crandell and James Vannette standing their ground in front of the American flag in the center of Allendales campus on Sep. 11th.

GVL / Emily Frye Servicemen Calvin Crandell and James Vannette standing their ground in front of the American flag in the center of Allendale’s campus on Sep. 11th.

Theresa Mueller

Grand Valley State University will be expanding its services for veteran students with the formation of Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), a federally funded TRIO program. GVSU received a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the development of VUB.

Funds for VUB will enable low-income veterans seeking to complete degree programs at GVSU to receive free services.

The Division of Inclusion and Equity submitted an application for the federal grant to the Department of Education this past June. Despite the competitive process, the university received notice for the award in late September. 

Currently, GVSU’s Division of Inclusion and Equity provides services to students through the Veteran Network program. 

“The Division of Inclusion and Equity strives to continually extend our efforts to advance the educational pipeline for veterans,” said Kathleen VanderVeen, assistant vice president for equity, planning and compliance, and ADA officer, via email. “Our objectives are to improve veteran readiness for post-secondary opportunities, improve admittance to post-secondary programs and improve graduation rates for the veterans who enter these institutions.” 

GVSU’s Veteran Network program is a campus resource that supports veterans, active service members and dependents in transition from military to student roles. The federal grant enables the university to extend its services to veteran students in the community through VUB.

“VUB is designed to motivate and assist veterans in the development of academic skills necessary for acceptance and success in the development of post-secondary education,” VanderVeen said. 

The grant will provide GVSU the opportunity to develop a dedicated staff and provide free academic support services annually for five years to 125 pre-college veterans from Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties.

“I am thrilled that West Michigan, in particular Grand Valley State University, is going to be able to provide these kinds of resources for the individuals who served our country,” VanderVeen said. “This grant is going to make a difference in the lives of many veterans.”   

The process for finding a director for VUB is underway. Once that role is filled, the recruitment process for program participants will follow. The majority of the effort to establish the new veterans’ education program has been fulfilled by the Division of Inclusion and Equity, but other members of the GVSU community have shown their support as well. 

As a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, GVSU President Thomas Haas is passionate about the university’s outreach to veterans in the community. He sees VUB as an opportunity for GVSU to “serve those who serve us.”

“I will give my full support and let our great staff figure out the right pathway (for veterans),” Haas said.