Michigan's College Access Blog

2018 College Advocacy Day Recap

Last year, the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) released its four-year strategic plan. Through the development of this plan, we reaffirmed our commitment to serving as a strong advocate for low-income, first generation college students, and students of color. In addition, we received a Member Advocacy Grant from the National College Access Network, which helped us as we revitalized Advocacy Day. Having strong community support for MCAN’s college access vision and this financial support allowed us to develop this day to break down barriers facing nontraditional college students through training, education and policy.

Last week, MCAN hosted its second annual College Access Advocacy Day, which brought over 50 college access champions visited the Capitol to participate in the event. This year, participates received comprehensive training from Michigan’s Children while also hearing inspiring messages from State Senator Jim Anaich and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri and Ben Frederick. In addition to the training, the event provided an opportunity for attendees to meet with state legislators and discuss Michigan’s educational challenges and opportunities.  

Participants were able to discuss their respective programs and initiatives with state legislators and also advocate for several legislative priorities, including:

  • Key programs included in the Governor’s Marshall Plan for Talent, including:
    • MI Bright Future Expansion
    • Talent Pledge Scholarships
    • Career Navigators
  • Adequate funding for Michigan’s colleges and universities as they support Michigan students toward degree completion
  • Increased financial assistance to Michigan students as they pursue postsecondary education
  • Adoption of a postsecondary education attainment goal (60% degree attainment by 2025)

Each legislator also received a local data brief, highlighting the various college access professionals and programs working to improve degree attainment in their legislative districts. These profiles can be downloaded HERE.

We hope that each participant at our Second Annual College Access Advocacy Day felt empowered by the experience and encouraged to utilize their training and resources to continue their advocacy efforts and engagement at the both the state and local level.

If you would like more information on MCAN’s Advocacy Strategy, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/advocacy or contact Brandy Johnson, MCAN’s executive director. 


Author: Emma Walter, Strategy Assistant
Posted: May 9, 2018

The Birth of 'The Bro Code'

From the beginning of my time serving as an adviser, I’ve been trying to find what we call balance. I’ve been attempting to give 100 percent to both myself and students; however, it is never that simple… This isn’t the kind of job where you can leave your “work” at work, because we carry the concerns and issues of our students, inside of our hearts. Simply speaking, I work from both my mind and my heart, when performing my responsibilities as an adviser. With this being said, these two sources served me well, on January 19th, 2018, as I facilitated The Bro Code.

This event was birthed from me wanting my senior males to see their college potential. I had such a difficult time breaking ice with many of them, due to their closed perspectives about college. In meetings, from some more than others, I’d get blank stares and phrases like “I don’t need to go to college”, or “This school stuff ain’t for me…”.They’d leave their meeting, and I’d be furious, because they were so unresponsive!! It seemed as if they didn’t believe me when I would say “You can go to college and do amazing things there!”, but as I dug deeper, I realized that they didn’t fully believe in themselves.

Though they never shared that with me in plain words, I knew. I knew I needed to find relatable figures in the Higher Education field, who could speak their language. I, obviously, didn’t know enough of this “code” to break through to them… and then, it clicked: I didn’t know the “bro” code. For weeks, I brainstormed a mini leadership event and bounced ideas of my amazing supervisor, Cherice Redwine-Fergerson and our Conflict Resolution Coordinator, Troy Haney. They served as the sounding board, who were honest with me, about what would or would not be engaging for the students. After much pruning, I had created an event that consisted of: leadership activities based on pop culture references, motivational speeches, and a filling lunch - all led by relatable men in the higher education field.

Finally, when the day arrived… everything that I hoped for occurred. It took time for my students to get comfortable with their group leaders, but when they did? I believe my students began to see themselves. The group leaders were amazing men I’ve met in my career: Christopher Scott, Admissions Representative, University of Toledo; Dr. Terry Flennaugh, Coordinator of Urban Education Initiatives for the College of Education, Michigan State University; Craig Boyd, Assistant Director Regional Location, Western Michigan University; Matthew Sehrsweeney, Representative, Wayne County College Access Network; Daniel Graves, Director of Curriculum at Henry Ford Academy; Troy Haney, Conflict Resolution Coordinator at Henry Ford Academy; and Ron Mixon, student at Central Michigan University. Eventually, I heard laughs, honest dialogue, problem solving, and witnessed the exchange of confidence. It was later confirmed that someone “got it”, when one of my most challenging seniors said he now wants to share his experience through high school with underclassmen, so that “Nobody has to go through what I went through…”

I was so full… not because it could be said that a great event took place, but because impactful connections were made, and students left changed. For me, that’s what this job is all about.


Author: J'Mesha Anderson, AdviseMI Adviser, Henry Ford Academy
Posted: March 28, 2018

MCAN is Moving!

Happy Spring! 

Spring is here, bringing with it warm, sunny weather, nesting birds, and bright spring flowers. It also brings a fresh, new start! If you haven’t heard the news, MCAN is moving its office location. We are excited to move to our new office, just a few blocks from the Capitol. We will be a short walk away from one of our favorite coffee shops, Biggby, and just across the street from the YMCA (lunch workout anyone?).

Look for updates on social media as we make our move this Friday, March 23, to:

200 N Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933

Hope to you seen in our new home!


Author: Vicky L. Wright, Operations Manager
Posted: March 20, 2018


Stronger Nation, Stronger Michigan: 2018 Update on Michigan’s Progress Toward Goal 2025

At the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) our goal is to increase the percentage of Michigan residents with degrees or postsecondary certificates to 60 percent by the year 2025.

Last month, Lumina Foundation released its annual Stronger Nation report which provides a progress report on our country’s postsecondary educational attainment rate.  MCAN uses this data to educate statewide and local stakeholders on Michigan residents’ educational achievements beyond high school.   

Here are a few highlights from the report that are specific to Michigan:

  • Michigan’s official postsecondary attainment rate is now 43.7 percent for Michigan residents ages 25-64. This number includes associate degrees or higher as well as high-quality postsecondary certificates and is a slight increase from last year.
  • Since 2008, Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate has increased by 8.1 percentage points.
  • While our state has seen increases over the years, we continue to see significant gaps in educational attainment among African-American, Hispanic and Native American students, compared to their white and Asian counterparts.
  • Michigan is still behind the national average by 3.2 percentage points.

While we are encouraged by our state’s attainment increase, we know we must continue to do better to reach Goal 2025. Our executive director, Brandy Johnson, recently had an op-ed in Bridge magazine highlighting the need for our state to prioritize higher education following Detroit and Grand Rapid’s failed bid for Amazon.

MCAN supports various initiatives to make our goal a reality, including training and professional development, grant-making, and advocacy at the local and state level. Through innovative partnerships, we strive to ensure that every student knows they are college material. 

To view the full report, please visit the Strong Nation website and share this data locally with your community.


Author: Jamie Jacobs, Senior Director of Capacity Building
Posted: March 6, 2018

Michigan College Access Network | 200 N Washington Square, Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 (map) | (517) 316-1713 Contact Us | Site Map | Terms and Privacy