Michigan's College Access Blog

Characteristics of an LCAN Coordinator

LCAN Spotlight

LCAN coordinators hold a unique position in our communities - they coordinate the community-wide college access strategy developed with the leadership team. Coordinators should have a clear vision of where the LCAN needs to focus and the ability to drive that focus forward. Rather than providing direct services to students and families, they work as trainers, conveners and liaisons.

As MCAN coaches and guides LCANs through the planning process, we often turn to a list of ideal skill-sets that make an effective network coordinator:

  • Visionary/mission-driven
  • Results-oriented
  • Collaborative, relationship builder
  • Focused, but adaptive
  • Charismatic and influential communicator
  • Politically savvy
  • Humble

We encourage our LCAN coordinators to empower the direct-service providers in their network and hold them accountable for shared outcomes. A coordinator can’t shy away from constantly pushing the community to action. But, that is easier said than done. We decided to approach the following four LCAN coordinators from around the state to ask them how they bring the list of skill sets to life:

 MaryAnnBehm

Mary Ann Behm
Program Coordinator
Launch Manistee 

 MHowell

Meghan Howell
Coordinator
Wexford-Missaukee College Access Network 

 AKryscynski

Ashley Kryscynski
Coordinator
Washtenaw Futures 

 AJohnson

Ashley Johnson
Executive Director
Detroit College Access Network 

 
How do you ensure your work stays at the network level rather than direct service?

Meghan: It’s important to establish yourself as a resource at the onset of any initiative and clearly define the expectations for the group you are working with. I provide a clear path to complete the activity and all the resources needed to do so upfront. This leaves room for newcomers to participate in an entry level way and veterans to elaborate independently.

Ashley K: I stay conscious of how I can best support and leverage resources for our direct service workers to make their jobs easier. As much as I’d love to be the one directly helping with college applications and FAFSA completion, I know that I have a greater impact in supporting those who are already doing this work.

What are you able to do by coordinating the community-wide college access strategy that you wouldn’t be able to do if you provided direct service?

Mary Ann: I’m able to work with community resources and the media to facilitate and promote our initiative. For example, during College Application Week, I provided the structure, information, and resources to the counseling staff for them to organize events.

Ashley J: We’re able to work at a systems level to ensure that our campaigns reach more students and have a greater impact on students city-wide…We also have an opportunity to improve the systems that students navigate every day, which will have positive long-term effects on the outcomes of students.

Ashley K: Leveraging multiple community resources to help fill in resource or knowledge gaps! The biggest success we had this year in Washtenaw County was creating the College Coaching Corps program with Eastern Michigan University and MCAN. Developing and implementing this program just isn't possible as a direct service worker. Our Leadership Team identified a need in our community and was able to identify multiple funding sources and create brand new positions to fill the need for specialized college advisors.

What has the community been able to accomplish with someone facilitating the collective impact process that wasn’t occurring prior to the LCAN’s existence?

Meghan: The LCAN has really moved the magnifying glass onto college access and who in our community is doing what.  Before our LCAN the community had a lot of really great things happening, but the communication to bridge those activities was lacking.  No single organization wanted to step into that coordinator role or be seen as telling other organizations what to do.  Consequently each organization went about its business respectful of the others doing the same.  Our LCAN gave a common denominator to all those efforts, and an independent voice to assess what was happening, and to make suggestions for coordination/improvement/change.  As a coordinator you can meet with all the organizations independently and bring concerns to light in the name of improving college access, not in the name of pushing agendas.  The LCAN provides that independent voice that is trying to improve college access. Not many can disagree with that, and the politics melt away.   

Ashley J: We’ve been able to create a formal structure that includes all the city’s school partners. Due to this formal structure, we have more buy-in citywide from schools and other partners. Our leadership team meetings have become more productive, and we have selected priority areas to focus on for the next one- to two-years.

What is the Leadership Team most excited about regarding having a staff member waking up every day thinking about college access?

Mary Ann: The Launch Manistee leadership team is most excited that we’ve seen accomplishments so quickly. There is collaboration going on that was not occurring before, and having a program coordinator means there is a dedicated staff member who makes sure the initiatives happen in a systematic and sustainable manner.

Ashley K: What excites them most is knowing this work cannot be done within their own respective sector alone, and that by having a dedicated coordinator, there is someone who acts as the point of contact to bring all their knowledge and resources together.  College has always been valued in our community and each sector knows how college attainment directly impacts their sector, which is why everyone does something in regards to college access. However, the team is excited to know that there’s now a dedicated staff person to bring all of these to the table to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

 

Sarah Anthony headshot 2013Author: Sarah Anthony, director of finance and strategic partnerships, Michigan College Access Network

Posted: March 18, 2015

First Year of Future Corps Ends in Success

Program Spotlight: Future Corps

An amazing first year of Future Corps will soon come to a close. Michigan College Access Network is celebrating the accomplishments of the pilot high schools, whose hard-working students and staff sponsors made the program successful. MCAN also is preparing to expand Future Corps, and invites more high schools to take part in this student-driven initiative that increases college enrollment.

During the 2014-15 academic year, three high schools participated in the first of a two-year Future Corps pilot program. Each school selected eight ambitious, well-networked students to serve on a Future Corps team, and a staff member to sponsor the team and support their work in the school. These students were specially trained on how to run peer-to-peer campaigns that reinforce Michigan’s college access initiatives, which include increasing college application submissions, Federal Application for Student Aid completion, and academic enrollment. Each school that participates in Future Corps receives:

  • Opportunities to increase school-wide college application and FAFSA  completion rates;
  • Participation in the four-day Future Corps Workshop for two Future Corps students and a faculty sponsor;
  • Professional development training for the faculty sponsor;
  • Leadership training sessions with College Summit coaches and student leaders; and
  • Staff and student trainings on college access and success technology, such as mobile apps.

According to the Future Corps team at Hillsdale High School, an impressive 98 percent of the senior class applied to college or the military during College Application Week. “We put notices on Facebook and Twitter about our classmates applying to college,” said Karri Shalosky, Hillsdale High School Future Corps Team. “We got hundreds of ‘LIKES’ and our message reached thousands of people!”

The school and its Future Corps team also intend to participate in First Lady Michelle Obama’s FAFSA-Completion Video Challenge, and are making plans to celebrate College Decision Day and evaluate FAFSA-completion results. Because peer-to-peer advocacy is a key component of Future Corps, the program helps high school counselors maximize their efforts to inform all graduating seniors about college access resources, and celebrate the completion of important steps in the enrollment process.

“Our FAFSA Party was a success,” says Future Corps Sponsor Mindy Eggleston. “We had 28 students attend. We provided food, gave away prizes, and posted the winners on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We also had about 10-12 parents who showed up with their students. Students at Hillsdale High School are definitely talking about college and students are realizing that if they want it – they can do it!” Eggleston’s sentiment is shared by the students.

Join Future Corps

MCAN is currently accepting proposals from high schools that wish to strengthen their college-going culture by participating in Future Corps. Participating schools must agree to the following:

  • Select a counselor or teacher to sponsor the Future Corps team;
  • Send Future Corps captains and sponsor to a four-day summer training;
  • Host a professional development session for Future Corps students to train faculty on the latest college access technologies;
  • Participate in a series of peer-to-peer campaigns to increase college knowledge and attainment;
  • Organize meetings with the school principal and Future Corps students to review campaigns and progress;
  • Provide College Summit feedback for improving the program; and
  • Spend $5,000 all-inclusive which will be matched with $5,000 from MCAN

To apply or to learn more visit micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/future-corps.


Christ Taylor headshot 2013Author: Christi Taylor, director of statewide initiatives and special projects

Posted: March 4, 2015

AdviseMI to Increase Number of College Advisers in High Schools

Program Spotlight: AdviseMI

MCAN is Proud of Our University Partners!

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With a student-to-counselor ratio exceeding 700-to-1, the Michigan College Access Network recognizes that Michigan high school students need more one-on-one support to complete the complex process of seeking college admission and financial aid. MCAN is committed to expanding the quantity and quality of college-access professionals working in Michigan high schools, which is why it created the AdviseMI program. AdviseMI will partner with 40-50 new high schools that are interested in hosting a full-time college adviser to support the work of school counselors.

Since 2010, MCAN has partnered with the College Advising Corp to establish college-advising programs at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Today, the two programs collectively hire 42 near-peer college advisers who are recent college graduates. The advisers serve 52 high schools and 36,000 students; many of whom are low-income and first-generation, college-going students. Despite major growth in the number of advisers available, many high schools remain in need of such services.

The goal of the AdviseMI program is to increase the number of high school students who enter and complete postsecondary education. Program advisers will complete an intensive five-week training session that enables them to help students navigate the college-exploration process, take college admissions tests, apply to suitable colleges, complete the Federal Application For Student Aid, and matriculate to college. Advisers serve a critical role as expert, mentor, champion, and guide to the students they serve. They also play a transformative role in the buildings in which they are placed, by partnering with staff and faculty to foster a college-going culture, and providing much-needed supplemental support to school counselors.

During the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year, MCAN will partner with several new universities to recruit, hire, train and support the near-peer advisers who will work on behalf of AdviseMI. MCAN also is now seeking proposals from high school administrators and counselors who wish to dramatically increase their college-going rates through a systemic team approach, and are committed to supporting a dedicated, full-time college adviser.

Interested high schools should complete an application, provide several assurances, and include two letters of support. Participating high schools also must commit to a minimum of three academic years in the program, and provide a portion of funds for the adviser. Host high schools will be announced at the MCAN Annual Conference on April 13, 2015. 

To learn more about the AdviseMI program and view the Request for Proposal, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/advisemi. If you have questions, contact me by calling (517) 316-1713 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The deadline for submitting an application is March 16, 2015.

Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development

Posted: Feb. 18, 2015

Proposed Funding Increase for Statewide College and Career Preparation

This week Gov. Rick Snyder released his FY2016 Budget proposal and we are thrilled to see Gov. Snyder has proposed to increase funding to support statewide college access initiatives for students. The proposal includes increase funding for the state's college and career readiness activities from $2 million to $3 million through the Michigan College Access Network.

Much of the increase will go to expanding college access activities for Michigan high school students. Those of you familiar with our work at MCAN know we help fund the placement of dedicated college advisers in high schools and organizes outreach efforts to make students and parents aware of the steps necessary to pursue education beyond high school. Additionally, our funding supports statewide college access campaigns, professional development opportunities, and grants to local college access networks.

Funding will be distributed through the Talent and Economic Development Agency to MCAN and will be used for:

  1. Access to local college networking program and services
  2. Increasing participation and graduation rates through local college access networks
  3. Support "Advise Michigan" program in recruiting, training, and placing current college graduates in becoming college advisors in high schools for low-income and first-generation students
  4. Granting mini-scholarships to high schools that display efforts in encouraging and assisting students that are applying for college
  5. Support Michigan College Access Portal, a portal that provides free support and resources for all students and parents that simplify the process from transitioning from middle to high school or from high school to college
  6. Increase awareness and outreach programs in assisting student and parents to apply for federal student aid

We're excited to work with the new Talent and Economic Development Agency, because like us, they are committed to investing in our talent in order to supply a workforce that meets future market demands. We know postsecondary education is essential to help people succeed professionally or advance in their careers.

The governor also proposed to increase funding to community colleges and public universities, teamed with a funding increase based on student-centric, best practices of the colleges. We applaud this commitment to put our students first.

Our state must ensure more young people are enrolling in and completing postsecondary degrees and certificates, because 70 percent of all jobs in Michigan will require postsecondary education by the year 2020.
We appreciate the Gov. Snyder's commitment to making this goal a reality.

Brandy Johnson headshot 2013Author: Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director


Posted: February 13, 2015

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