Statewide Initiative Success: Building Leadership Team and Direct Service Provider Buy-In

LCAN Spotlight: Hillsdale County Career Access Planning (HCCAP!)

Last month we launched Future Corps, next week is College Application Week and shortly after we'll shift our focus to FAFSA completion and financial aid. MCAN provides a number of statewide initiatives and support resources for LCANs to utilize and implement in their community, but it can be challenging convincing your leadership team or direct service providers to welcome a new initiative with open arms.

hccap paper

Many of our veteran LCANs will tell you the statewide initiatives are the low-hanging fruit that can quickly build community buy-in and strengthen the network during the early, formative years. However, some initial buy-in is necessary when bringing initiatives (which often take some work to build and grow) into a school or community. Enter Hillsdale County Career Access Planning (HCCAP!). The HCCAP! leadership team and their area high schools have been quite responsive when approached with new initiatives.

In 2013, HCCAP! had 10 area high schools, including one alternative school, participate in College Application Week with 92% of the senior population participating. Eight high schools participated in College Decision Day 2014, and most recently, with the LCAN's encouragement, Hillsdale High School jumped at the opportunity to join Future Corps. Many schools had to turn down the change to participate in Future Corps due to the quick turnaround time allotted to make a commitment and the financial match component, but HCCAP! was able to rally both the high school and their leadership team to provide the support needed to make the new initiative a reality.

While Hillsdale County Career Access Planning has successfully engaged their high schools with MCAN statewide initiatives, the process of making the case hasn't always been easy.

"Don't be overwhelmed by the initiatives or get frustrated when you present them and your audience isn't nearly as enthused as you are," said Lynn Burkett, HCCAP! coordinator. "Often Hillsdale County CAP! will take on more of the heavy-lifting of the program during the first year, until the high school is ready to take ownership and has stronger buy-in among personnel." 


Meeting resistance is not uncommon. Those working directly with students may be cautious to adjust their process or view it as additional work. It will take time to demonstrate the benefits of a new initiative or resource.

"During our first year of College Application Week, our counselors saw the benefits not only for the students to complete college applications in the fall, but for their workload as well," said Lynn. "Our counselors realized that when all students finalized college applications by College Application Week, this dramatically changed their availability to support students in finding financial aid and ultimately enrolling in college in the spring." Because of this positive experience, Hillsdale County schools were excited to host College Decision Day and started planning for College Application Week 2014 immediately.

When building support and buy-in, it's important to meet directly (and often) with those providing the direct service. As the LCAN coordinator, Lynn works as a liaison between the direct service providers and the LCAN leadership team or MCAN to report areas of improvement and success.

"When the opportunity for Future Corps presented itself, our LCAN was able to spring into action and meet with the high schools we felt were the best fit for the program because we have an established relationship based on trust between our leadership team and area high schools," said Lynn.

To learn more about Hillsdale County Career Access Planning visit To learn more about MCAN statewide initiatives visit

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

Posted: October 29, 2014

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