Michigan's College Access Blog

Planning Grant Success: Make a Plan before You Plan

LCAN Spotlight: Clinton County

MCAN supports the creation and development of local college access networks (LCANs) through grants, technical assistance and professional devleopment. Often it is a Planning Grant that kicks off the strategic planning process to organize and initiate a community-based local college access network. Clinton County was recently awarded a Planning Grant and this spotlight highlights their pre-planning grant process.

Often one organization will initially start the conversation and facilitate the grant writing process until a more formal structure and leadership team is in place. This was also true in Clinton County, with initial conversations spurred by the Clinton County RESA.

Before formal invitations were sent to convene community leaders with MCAN staff to discuss if an LCAN should be formed, individual invitations were sent to build awareness and provide a brief explanation of the intent of the formal community meeting. This also provided a safe space for leaders to respond on an individual level before committing to a larger gathering. Invitations were sent to leaders from all sectors in the community including Superintendents of every district in Clinton County, CEO and Director-level leaders from economic development, city and county offices, local business, higher education, philanthropy and nonprofits.

It is not uncommon for a community to invite MCAN to the initial introductory meeting to provide background information about the Michigan College Access Netwrok and guidance of what it means to be an LCAN. We typically come armed with local data and are able to share what we have learned from other LCANs across the state.

After reviewing local data, the community leaders were easily convinced applying for a Planning Grant was the best thing to do. The Clinton County RESA came prepared to the first meeting with letters of commitment that each organization signed before leaving. This helped keep the group on task so time was not lost trying to track down letters of commitment for weeks and sometimes months after the initial meeting.

Throughout the grant-writing process, the team wasn't shy reaching out to MCAN staff for assistance in determining timelines, budgets and relevant data to include.

"MCAN was a huge support during the grant writing process," said Denise Palmer, Clinton County LCAN coordinator and Clinton County RESA instructional services assistant. "We submitted a draft of our grant in advance for them to proof and offer suggestions and guidance. Our leaders had many questions about the data we should be submitting and MCAN was instrumental in helping to provide the data resources we needed."

Clinton County leaders first met in April 2014 and submitted their final grant application to MCAN in July 2014. With the right leaders in place all committed to building a college access network, the grant writing process can move quickly and easily.

Charting the Course cover for web

"It's vital that the community leaders are at the initial meeting or presentation to ask questions among their peers and address any concerns up front," said Denise Palmer. "If someone was unable to attend, we quickly followed up and provided all meeting materials to ensure that leader was up to speed and ready to engage so our network wouldn't lose momentum in the grant writing process."

If your community is considering applying for a Planning Grant, reach out to MCAN for support and consider contacting other LCANs in your region. To learn more about the available MCAN grants, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/lcan/grants. You may also download our LCAN implementation guidebook, Charting the Course: A community's guide for increasing educational attainment through the lens of collective impact.

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

Posted: September 18, 2014

Getting Grit: EduGuide equips school and college groups to narrow achievement gaps

Why do some students succeed at reaching and completing college while their peers fall away? Researchers have found that deeper noncognitive factors help explain the difference. 

Take "grit," for instance. Similar to persistence, it's the technical term for the ability to focus on long-term goals and to overcome obstacles along the way. Sounds a lot like the definition of what it takes for first generation students to graduate from college doesn't it?

Dr. Angela Duckworth won the MacArthur Genius Award for her work in studying grit and creating a psychometric assessment to measure it. Researchers found that a student's girl level is actually a better predictor of their success than their IQ. 

EduGuide reviewed the research and strategies to leverage it in an MCAN webinar this week. You can find a webinar video and related free resources here. EduGuide is helping schools, colleges and groups implement an evidence-based online program to build grit and other core learning skills with support from Michigan GEAR UP and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Interested in participating? Schedule a tour to get more details.

BryanTaylorphotoAuthor: Bryan Taylor is the president of EduGuide, a nonprofit that specializes in research driven tools to coach individuals to take measurage steps toward success.

Posted: September 11, 2014

Welcoming New Learning Opportunities

1407458086 YPS  file document to sign signature signed sign sheet contract paper page textOn behalf of the Michigan College Access Network, welcome back! While we never really "turn off" our efforts to improve college access, the start of a new school year brings new energy, new ideas and new opportunities. To celebrate the upcoming academic year and fresh opportunities for learning, MCAN is launching a blog!

Our blog will bring us an additional space to share our burning thoughts and questions related to college access as we work together to increase Michigan's college attainment rates and strengthen the college-going culture in our schools and communities. Expect us to dive into the Collective Impact framework, analyze new reports, and showcase some of the excellent work happening across Michigan. This will also allow us to share more about our Local College Access Networks through the LCAN Spotlights we feature in the e-newsletter and opportunities to provide an in-depth look at partners and programs in our state.

MCAN staff will be the main drivers in providing content, but we also welcome you, yes you, to submit a guest post. We will welcome guest posts that share a statewide interest for our network and readers. Submit your ideas to Lisa King at lisa at micollegeaccess.org for consideration.

The blog is built into the MCAN website. You can check it out at any time. And you'll be able to access it through our e-newsletter, Facebook page and LinkedIn page. Tell us what topics you hope to see discussed. We welcome your ideas and feedback!

In addition to our new blog, we're gearing up for a number of exciting opportunities to interact with college access professionals across the state and country.

Nearly 300 high schools are planning to host a Michigan College Application Week event this fall. Site coordinators were recently trained and are busy planning their activities and schedules.

On September 14, the MCAN team and I will be jetting off to my hometown, Phoenix, AZ for the National College Access Network annual conference. Our team always leaves the NCAN conference reinvigorated and we can't wait to share what we learn.

At the end of this month, our second co-hort for the School Counselor Postsecondary Planning Training Course will kick off. We're thrilled to support more than 120 counselors through this course and are excited to watch them grow and bring new ideas back to their students.

We hope you are as excited as us to start the academic year. What are you excited to learn this year?

Brandy Johnson headshot 2013Author: Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: September 4, 2014

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