Michigan's College Access Blog

Supporting School Counselors through Evidence-Based Practices

Materials photoMCAN, along with several state partners, recently participated in the third Reach Higher convening hosted by the White House. It has been exciting to participate in the three convenings to see the growth of not only the Reach Higher initiative at a national level, but also the growth at the state level over time. MCAN worked alongside representatives from Central Michigan University's School Counseling Program, Kent Intermediate School District, Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan School Counselor Association, Michigan State Board of Education, and Western Michigan University's School Counseling Program to talk about how Michigan organizations can better work together together. The Michigan collaborative is working to set priorities and implement evidence-based practices that support school counselors and college access professionals in helping all students prepare for and pursue education beyond high school.

In addition to team planning time, the convening included a great group of national and statewide leaders in this work. The event highlighted national speakers Eric Waldo, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative; Joe Garcia, lieutenant governor of Colorado; Danette Gerald Howard, vice president for policy and mobilization at Lumina Foundatio; Johan E. Uvin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education in the U. S. Department of Education; and Madeline M. Pumariega, chancellor of the Florida College System.

Michigan was asked to lead a breakout session focused on collaboration and mobilization. The session was led by John Austin from the State Board of Education, Patrick O'Connor from MACAC, and Jamie Jacobs from MCAN and focused on Michigan's collaboration and mobilization strategies to support the development of a state policy agenda, policy recommendations to support and strengthen school counseling and college advising, and the impact of creating collaborative structures and systems to drive policy changes to impact measurable student level outcomes.

First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative has been an inspiration to Michigan organizations and individuals working to support school counselors and college advisers as we work tirelessly to ensure all students are prepared for and pursue education after high school. The Michigan Reach Higher Collaborative has been formalized and is excited to release their strategic framework and priorities in early 2016. Keep an eye out for an update in the new year!

team photo

Authors: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development at MCAN, and Patrick O'Connor, MCAN board of directors and MACAC representative.
Posted: November 30, 2015

Top eight reasons why the Pell Grant is HUGE for Michigan

  1. Thankful4PellTwitterPell Grant funding is crucial to maintaining and raising the number of college graduates in Michigan.
  1. The use of the Pell grant has increased in recent years because more students and unemployed workers are going back to school to get the training they need for jobs in the new economy.
  2. Pell Grants have served as the cornerstone of college opportunity for our lowest income students and helping them graduate.
  3. In 2015, the Pell grant program provided more than 8 million students nationally with aid for higher education. 
  4. In 2013-14 more than 300,000 students attending college in Michigan received $1.03 billion in Pell Grants. 
  5. MCAN's 40 AdviseMI college advisers are helping students across Michigan gain access Pell Grants and understand the application process.
  6. Students need help financial now more than ever, in 1977 the Pell Grant used to cover 77 % of tuition, fees, room and board at a public four-year university or college, in 2010 it covered 33 %. 
  7. Filing the FAFSA is the ONLY WAY to access federal loans, federal Pell grants, most college-based grants, and many scholarships (including state scholarships like MI Competitive).

Join us in sharing why you are #Thankful4Pell, to help spread the word about this important grant!

Lisa King headshot 2013Author: Lisa King, MCAN communications consultant
Posted: Nov. 19, 2015

Reach Higher: Building a College-Going High School

Over the past few years, MCAN has dedicated a great deal of its energy to providing support to school counselors across the state. Earlier this month, MCAN teamed up with the Michigan Association for Secondary School Principals and the Michigan Association for College Admissions Counseling to co-host a one-day workshop for school administrator and school counselor teams. Though the workshop was rescheduled after a snow storm caused us to cancel it in February, more than 200 principals, counselors and superintendents were in attendance.

The day focused on the role of administrators and counselors in building the college-going culture. Eric Waldo, executive director of the First Lady's Reach Higher Initiative, served as the plenary speaker and addressed the critical role counselors play in changing the postsecondary trajectories for all students. Two national experts from the National Consortium for School Counseling and Postsecondary Success, Dr. Joyce Brown and Patricia Martin, discussed how counselors must have the capacity, administrative support and formal preparation in college counseling to effectively lead the college access movement in their buildings.

In addition to hearing from national experts, Michigan's transition from the ACT to the SAT was a hot topic and the spotlight was put on West Ottawa High School as a successful model in building a college-going culture.

The day was an inspiration to all, with teams committing to building stronger relationships, partnerships and strategies to ensure Michigan's students receive the highest quality educational experiences. We're excited to see the commitments take shape in high schools across Michigan.

If you missed the workshop, there are still learning opportunities for administration and counselors. MCAN will host a follow-up webinar series for roles of principals in leading the charge of this work. More details will be shared on our website and in our e-newsletter as they are confirmed.

Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development
Posted: Nov. 17, 2015

Identifying Students Eligible for McKinney- Vento

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. School personnel are encouraged to help identify students, as cases occur, who are in situations of homelessness. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires by law that schools identify students experiencing homelessness so that they can coordinate with other entities and agencies to provide them with their McKinney-Vento rights and services.

Identifying students that are by definition homeless can be a tricky situation as the word "homeless" evokes stereotypes. However, using discreet sensitivity and awareness, school faculty and staff can provide assistance and guidance to those who are eligible for the McKinney-Vento services.

Children and youth under the McKinney-Vento Act are those who lack fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. In many cases students, parents or caregivers are asked to describe their living situation when filling out a residency or enrollment form from the school which is sent out once or twice a year.

Housing situations may frequently change for homeless students during the school year. Homeless students may be hard for school staff to identify particularly if the student or family does not inform the school. Front office staff, teachers, aides, school nurses, cafeteria staff, bus drivers and administrators as well as fellow students should understand the situations of homelessness that might indicate a student is lacking permanent house. Some situations to look for include youth who are:

  • sharing the housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or family crisis;
  • living in motel, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations;
  • living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • awaiting foster care placement; or
  • forced to leave home or run away.

Some students may be afraid of identifying themselves as homeless due to fears of stigma or negative repercussions. It is the responsibility of school faculty and staff to be key members of the school district's McKinney-Vento identification team and notify the school's Local Homeless Education Liaison of eligible students. Common signs that faculty and staff can recognize and help the school's Local Homeless Education Liaison identify students who may be experiencing homelessness include:

  • Attendance and transportation problems
  • Reactions/statements by student, parent or guardian
  • Social and behavioral concerns
  • Lack of continuity of education
  • Poor health/nutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of personal space after school

Schools serve as important places for students who are experiencing homelessness to find assistance. Lack of stable housing can be confusing and difficult to explain. Resources are available through local schools and community agencies to help families in these situations, as well as advocate for those who need assistance.

NAECHYHomeless students are frequently eligible for assistance to pay for college. If an identified McKinney Vento student is determined to be unaccompanied, they are automatically eligible to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as an independent student, as they are not in physical custody of a parent or guardian. For more information on FAFSA completion for students that are experiencing homelessness go to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth's website.

For more information on how to connect with your local Homeless Education Liaison, please visit the Michigan Department of Education website.

Related Links:

luke schroederGuest Author: Luke Schroeder, AmeriCorps VISTA, Capital Area College Access Network

Posted: Nov. 11, 2015 - modified with permission from the Capital Area College Access Network

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