Now&Always Building Partnerships

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Since our founding, Ferris State University has been woven into the fabric of West Michigan and beyond. When Ferris became a state institution in 1950, that charge to serve the community officially became part of our mission. That service has ranged from the more general — educating workers and citizens — to specific partnerships that reach into communities around the state.

The first of these began in 1991, with a formal partnership with Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) to create the Applied Technology Center (ATC). This collaboration allows students to earn an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree from Ferris, all in one location. By focusing on the unifying elements of a shared vision for academic and career success, the partnership has helped both institutions facilitate dual enrollment and to share space and resources for more than 25 years. Thousands of people have been able to earn current and competitive two- and four-year degrees in a familiar and comfortable learning environment, without being displaced from the community in which they work and live.

This simple proposition — meeting needs where you find them — became the model for scores of subsequent partnerships. Ferris now offers programs online and at 21 locations throughout Michigan and partners with more than 100 nonprofit organizations around the state.

Such partnerships are mutually beneficial. They help increase diversity by building welcoming and supportive capacity for students facing significant socioeconomic, cultural and language barriers to education. They prepare students for successful careers, responsible citizenship and economic success, especially those from underserved communities. They create synergy with nonprofits by matching specific expertise and community involvement with academic quality, and they supply job-ready graduates to the many industries and businesses in Michigan.

Now & Always: The Campaign for Ferris State University will expand the reach and impact of these collaborations.

Latino Community Development

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Latinos are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Michigan — and the fastest growing. Studies show, however, that Latinos lag in education performance, income levels, employment rates and health status.

Over the past five years, Ferris has joined forces with community nonprofits to change these statistics. Summer programs, such as Avancemos and Promesa Summer Success, work with middle and high school students to close the education achievement gap. The University’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center offers programs that invest in up-and-coming community leaders and business people through the Latino Talent Initiative and the Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. Campaign support will allow these multifaceted partnerships to grow, building a strong, diverse workforce that will allow West Michigan citizens, communities and businesses to flourish. Support Latino Community Development.

Plaza Roosevelt for Grand Rapids

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Our vision is to build a Center for the Community in collaboration with neighborhood stakeholders. The community-driven facility will be a learning space that hosts seminars, classes and community workshops. Utilizing the wider resources of the university, our intent is to provide healthcare outreach programs including pharmacy, optometry and professional health services.

The center and its programs will be designed for mutual benefit, not only teaching and empowering the community, but bringing vital understanding of cultural heritage to Ferris students.

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD)

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In 2001, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), a nationally recognized art and design school with its own rich 70-plus-year history and reputation for excellence, became part of Ferris State University. This partnership has paired KCAD’s reputation for art and design education with Ferris’ understanding of the importance of innovation, creativity and design in the state’s evolving economy. Today, Kendall College of Art and Design has an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

Campaign investment will enable KCAD to achieve its top priority of increasing scholarship opportunities for its students at KCAD. Donor-supported scholarships make it possible for KCAD to better bridge the gap and reduce barriers for students seeking a KCAD degree today and into the future. All gifts, whether large or small, have the ability to create this lasting positive impact. Support Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD).


Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

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In 2013, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) joined KCAD and Ferris State University. The UICA promotes inclusive cultural dialogue and lifelong learning throughout our diverse society and is a unique resource in West Michigan for students and the broader community. Through the campaign, UICA will expand its community impact by expanding curatorial support that will bolster the creative heart of UICA by expanding its ability to bring exhibitions and programs that speak to broader and more diverse communities. Support the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.