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Empowered to Act at Maritime Academy 2019

Local College Access Networks  (LCANs) are community-based college access alliances supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business and philanthropy. These networks are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates within their community. Each year, individuals working in an LCAN attend Maritime Academy, where they undergo a rigorous, three-day comprehensive training in order to strengthen their college access strategy. 

Peter Haines is a member of the Ottawa County College Access Network, serves as the Superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, and attended Advanced Maritime Academy. 

In the pursuit of increasing the quality of life for our communities, we recognize the importance of key metrics identified by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) that are also supported by a wealth of economic and social research.  Using a Collective Impact approach to analyzing the relevant data associated with these metrics, through the eyes of a diverse group of stakeholders can be a daunting challenge. The work is complicated, but if navigated effectively through a Collective Impact method, it leads to a much richer appreciation for the most significant factors which determine the quality of life of our communities.

For many years, Local College Access Network (LCAN) efforts have been regionalized around the greater Ottawa county area, which is one of the most economically active and densely populated areas in Michigan.   The economy has been strong, even at times when other parts of the state have struggled. This has only amplified our need to meet the talent demands of our employers while assuring lifetime opportunities are never traded away for immediate rewards. Lifelong learning is the key to prosperity at the individual and family-unit level. The tension we realize between exposing our students to immediate career opportunities and positioning them for a pathway of credential attainment puts us in the middle of today’s urgent demands and tomorrow’s possibilities.

Thankfully, the Maritime Academy developed and facilitated by MCAN allowed for a full team from the Ottawa area to come for an intense and thoughtfully designed dive into not just the process, but the logic of constructing our own region-wide network. The theme makes sense, as so much of the work requires stepping away from some traditionally-kept practices and understandings, and venturing into ‘uncharted waters’. We were especially thankful for the knowledge and expertise of the MCAN staff, and their commitment to support the work that must be done uniquely in each network. We were equally encouraged by the leaders MCAN assembled to pursue our most ambitious improvement targets, with relevant outcome measures that stand the scrutiny of our stakeholders.

Upon returning from the Maritime Academy, we have already found applications for the content and methods cultivated that week. Members of our LCAN team are using the vocabulary and expanding our own network of stakeholders. Conversations in many groups often turn to the shared interests that might best be addressed in a coalition approach, through our LCAN. Diverse constituents are focusing on the metrics we are able to explain in much greater detail. The energy is truly encouraging and inspiring!

While this energy is encouraging and inspiring, one of the most important learnings from the Maritime Academy had to do with a very fundamental concept - what the role and position our LCAN needs to play across the community. The members of both our LCAN leadership and action teams care deeply about the educational success of individuals across our community.  It is exactly because of this deep care and desire to help our community that we often fall prey to “solutionitis,” that eternal search for the next program or intervention to fix the problem. The Maritime Academy was a much-needed reminder that our LCAN must rise above developing new programs and interventions and operate at the systems level.  It is only through this level of focus that we will truly be able to change credential attainment outcomes for all individuals across our community.

We look forward to the continued support from MCAN as we grow our own capacity to meet the needs in our learning community!

Author: Peter Haines
Posted: September 27, 2019

Representing Maritime

Local College Access Networks  (LCANs) are community-based college access alliances supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business and philanthropy. These networks are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates within their community. Each year, individuals working in an LCAN attend Maritime Academy, where they undergo a rigorous, three-day comprehensive training in order to strengthen their college access strategy. 

State Representative Sheryl Y. Kennedy serves District 48 and is a member of the Genesee County College Access Network and attended Advanced Maritime Academy. 

I’m a former teacher and school administrator, Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Michigan State Representative, and now a proud member of my local LCAN, the Genesee County College Access Network.  As a new member, I recently had the privilege to participate in the Maritime Academy training provided by the Michigan College Access Network.

I had already attended a few meetings of my local LCAN before officially coming on board, making it refreshing to confirm that we are on the right track for making real change when it comes to getting our students to college.  As a new organization, we’re continuing the process of getting fully up to speed. We have just finished our asset map (although this is a fluid document) and we are looking at where the barriers to education lie in our county. 

I am thankful to have the opportunity to work together with other like-minded leaders to find solutions. I am also grateful that in Genesee County our Intermediate School District is our anchor, so many of the organizational systems are already set.

It was interesting listening to the other groups talk about what they are finding as a result of their research into the same major questions we face throughout the state: How do we get students to sign up for college in the first place? How do we keep them there once they show up in the fall?

What I found most interesting from listening to the others in the group is that many of us are identifying the same underlying issues creating serious barriers to pursuing higher education: FAFSA completion.  As a State Representative, I can take that information and work on legislation to help overcome this persistent concern.  We know that in states like Tennessee, where free college is offered the first two years following high school, FAFSA completion skyrockets.  This not only gets to the heart of MCAN’s mission, but results in a more educated citizenry.  In Michigan, this proposed legislation is called the “MI Opportunity Initiative.”  This will allow eligible high school students who receive a B average grade or higher to have their community college tuition covered if they complete the FAFSA.

I am working hard to get bipartisan support for this initiative; and in the meantime, I’m working within my GCAN to make sure all stakeholders are represented and heard.  I appreciate the training I received at Maritime Academy and look forward to continued growth and support of all Michigan students.

Author: Michigan State Representative Sheryl Y. Kennedy
District 48
Posted: September 17, 2019

 

Celebrating Pride 365: Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Offering Support through the College Application Process

Melissa Monier is an AdviseMI alumna and is currently pursuing her a Master’s Degree in Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

During June Pride Month, it is easy to get swept up in the rainbows and glitter, to celebrate the beauty and diversity of life, to celebrate love and to support one another. But Pride is also a month of remembering LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trasngender, Queer, and the “+” stands for a multitude of identities that are always growing and expanding) history and also recognizing that we still have a ways to go to ensure equal access and treatment for this vulnerable, yet resilient, population.

LGBTQ+ issues are college access issues. According to GLSEN and the HRC (Human Rights Campaign):

  • 73% of LGBTQ+ youth have been bullied because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ+ identity.
  • 42.5% of LGBTQ+ of LGBTQ+ high school students reported that they did not plan to finish high school/considering dropping out because of the harassment, they faced at school
  • LGBTQ+ high school students were twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education

Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde said: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” We are not one-dimensional. We often use the term “intersectionality” to describe the way that all of our multifaceted identities and intersect to shape our experiences and the way we navigate through our everyday lives.

Our students of color could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our students on free/reduced lunch, our DACA/DACA-mented students, Dreamers, first-generation American students could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our rural students, urban or suburban students could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our homeless or independent students could also be our LGBTQ+ students (and in many cases, LGBTQ+ students experience homelessness at an even higher rate). We fight and advocate for these issues, and because our students are often at the intersections of more than one, we also need to fight and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, especially in our schools.

Be an allyGLSEN has some great resources on learning how to improve your allyship:

  • Assess your personal beliefs. Check yourself for any anti LGBTQ+ bias, understand your own privileges, and learn more about LGBTQ+ terminology.
  • Respond to anti-LGBTQ+ behavior: stand up for students and stop transphobic or homophobic behavior when you see/hear it. Use inclusive language. Be visible in your allyship.
  • Being in a near-peer situation as a College Adviser, students are going to trust you. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to make sure your space is a safe and affirming space. If a student confides in you or comes out to you, listen and offer them support, but don’t assume they need any help.
  • Don’t think you have all the answers, and don’t make any assumptions. We’re all learning, and we all have to start somewhere! Make sure you’re listening to your students, they’ll tell you what they need. Sometimes your support and visible allyship is more than enough.

College can be a safe-haven for LGBTQ+ students; a place to be independent, to freely be themselves to explore their identities, and a place to connect and meet others who share their experiences and can support them. College was the first time that I had the space, the resources, and the encouragement of faculty and other students to explore queer issues and develop a passion for intersectional feminism and activism, which I believe helped me greatly during my service as a College Adviser. That’s why finding the perfect fit is so important.

 There are a few resources available to help your students through the college search process:

  1. The Campus Pride Index allows colleges to self-report information about their institution and then Campus Pride scores them based on LGBTQ+ inclusivity. If you are working with a student, this can be a good place to start showing them options, or be aware of the resources that they might want to look out for in their college search process.
  2. University representatives: your reps will be able to answer student questions or refer them to other campus resources. Some questions you might want to ask: Are there gender-neutral bathrooms on campus? Is there gender-neutral housing or LGBTQ+ housing? Is there an LGBTQ+ resource center? Is there a preferred name policy or an option for students to add a preferred name to the system? Are there any scholarships for LGBTQ+ students? Are there any counselors/health services for LGBTQ+ students?
  3. Also, look for local LGBTQ+ organizations in your local/surrounding communities that can offer support or resources

As we celebrate pride, we are called to re-evaluate what it means to be an ally, and we must remember to support those that need it most, not just in June, but 365 days a year.

Additional resources:

Posted: June 27, 2019
Author: Melissa Monier 

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