LCAN Leadership Team Success: Facilitating New Partnerships

LCAN Spotlight: Washtenaw Futures

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One of the more challenging (but magical) tasks for LCAN leadership teams is figuring out how to leverage existing assets to create new partnerships and programs. Washtenaw Futures recently demonstrated this high-impact strategy when leadership team discussions shifted from "What is our data telling us about where we need to focus our efforts?" to "How do we work together creatively to solve this problem?"

The Washtenaw Futures leadership team realized students lacked the support to navigate the college process. The leadership team had been meeting for some time and trust and familiarity was established between members that hadn't existed previously. When Decky Alexander, Faculty Associate at Eastern Michigan University's Graduate School spoke up and said, "We may have a creative solution", other community leaders were ready to listen and support.

The solution included developing a college advising program utilizing graduate students from Eastern Michigan University's Masters of School Counseling and Masters of Educational Leadership programs. Milan High School, Ypsilanti Community High School and Ypsilanti New Tech were identified as the schools to receive the services, not only because of their need to boost college enrollment rates among low-income students, but because their K-12 leaders were playing an active role within the LCAN leadership team, and were ready to act quickly to bring a much needed service to their buildings.

Moving from idea to reality was a fairly smooth process since each leadership team member had been engaged from the early stages of the LCAN development and understood how this strategy supported the common agenda of Washtenaw Futures. 

WF college coachesHow does the new partnership work within Washtenaw County? Eastern Michigan University is providing full-time (20 hours a week) graduate assistantships which covers tuition and other resources such as parking, computers, etc. MCAN provided the college advising training for the newly hired graduate assistants. The local school districts, Milan and Ypsilanti, contributed the graduate assistantship stipends for each 'college coach' as well as additional costs needed to support the position within the school district. To ensure the advisers are receiving adequate support in their new roles and are working collaboratively with the school counselors, the graduate assistants meet with their LCAN Coordinator, LCAN Director, and EMU liaison on a bi-weekly basis.

The partnership is still early in its progress, but already the LCAN is hearing from the school counselors that the college advisers are being received positively by the students. The college advisers have organized college fairs for students, in addition to scheduling intentional one-on-one planning meetings with graduating seniors. The counselors are grateful for the additional support to ensure their students know how to navigate the path to college.

EMU College Coaches from left to right: Amber Hawkins, William Horton-Anderson, and Jessica Hendricks

To learn more about Washtenaw Futures visi www.facebook.com/washtenawfutures

Lisa King headshot 2013Author: Lisa King, public relations consultant for the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: October 15, 2014

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