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Michigan College Access Network responds to Michigan’s membership in Complete College America

State joins national organization that promotes increased college access

Statement from Michigan College Access Network Interim Director Ryan Fewins-Bliss:

The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is excited by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement today of Michigan’s membership in Complete College America (CCA). By joining a national organization that promotes increased college access and completion rates, Michigan, as a state, is placing a priority on postsecondary opportunity for all.

We stand ready to support Michigan’s higher education institutions in implementing the research-based strategies of CCA, including grants, training and advocacy.

The governor’s leadership on this issue and today’s action aligns with the mission of MCAN – to increase college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color. It also helps move us in the right direction toward Michigan’s goal of increasing the percentage of Michigan residents with degrees and postsecondary certificates to 60% by 2030.

We look forward to working with Michelle Richard and other members of the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (MIHEART) on the initiatives related to Complete College America.

With Michigan’s membership in CCA and the state’s “Sixty by 30” goal, we aim to increase:

·      The percent of students enrolled in Michigan's community colleges completing, graduating or transferring within six years (currently at 45.8%).

  • The percent of students enrolled in a Michigan public university graduating within six years (currently at 73.3 %).
  • The percent of high school graduates who complete a postsecondary certificate or degree within six years (currently at 38.13%).

Michigan’s path to economic prosperity is closely aligned with college access and completion. Any steps we can take to support students are essential for our state’s growth and individuals’ opportunities.

ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41% in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4% of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45% as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by the year 2030. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
Christopher Tremblay
Email: 
christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 
(517) 816-7774

Download Press Release (PDF)

Michigan College Access Network invests $25,000 over two years to support retention efforts at Wayne State University

Grant will support the launch of the nation’s first micro-scholarship student success initiative

October 8, 2019 - LANSING, Mich. — A select group of first-year students at Wayne State University will receive additional support and incentives thanks to a $25,000 Innovative Program Grant over two years from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

The award helps launch the RaiseMe Student Success Pilot Program, aimed at promoting college persistence and retention for students who are at greatest risk of stopping or dropping out. More than 20 university staff among seven offices and divisions at Wayne State are involved in this pilot program, which is the first in the nation. This grant-funded initiative has two phases: Summer Melt and Fall Success.

In the Summer Melt portion, rolled out in June 2018, approximately 500 first-year students were invited to earn micro-scholarships for activities designed to increase their engagement and sense of belonging with pre- and early semester university programming. Student activities include FAFSA completion, attending orientation and pre-semester programming and enrolling in 15 credit hours for the fall.

The Fall Success portion, now live, engages 1,000 students in activities designed to promote academic success, provide financial assistance, and increase sense of belonging. Students earn incentives for meetings with faculty, tutoring, attending a study skills workshop, completing a financial literacy module, participating in extracurricular events and developing meaningful relationships.

“Wayne State University is committed to developing innovative ways to keep our current and future students engaged in their university experience and on track to degree completion,” said Provost Keith Whitfield. “Expanding our partnership with RaiseMe will allow us to connect with continuing students in new ways, while providing financial support that eases the cost of education.”

Wayne State University already utilizes the RaiseMe online platform to promote college readiness and to motivate and incentivize high school and community college students in their path to undergraduate enrollment. This pilot program extends the use of the platform to support student retention for currently enrolled undergraduate students. Wayne State has the fastest growing completion rate in the nation. Between 2011 and 2017, the university experienced an overall graduation rate increase of 21 percentage points, earning the 2018 Degree Completion Award from the Association of Public and Landgrant Universities.

“We are extremely pleased to continue our ongoing partnership with MCAN and to deepen our efforts in student retention and success through this new initiative with RaiseMe,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at WSU.

“With the success of this pilot program, we expect that this adaptation of the technology will become available nationally, creating a sweeping, positive uptick in college completion rates for students across the country,” said Kate Dyki, program management specialist at Wayne State University.

“This initiative aligns with our goal of ‘Sixty by 30’ and is laser-focused on retention, persistence and degree completion,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of MCAN. “We believe this is the leading edge of modern student retention efforts in American higher education and will become a national model because of its approach.”

RaiseMe is the inventor and sole source of micro-scholarships for first-time, first-year college students. It partners with 300 colleges and universities and 25,000 high schools.

MCAN’s Innovative Program Grants are designed to fund programming that increases college readiness, enrollment and completion in local communities and across the state. Since these grants were introduced in 2016, MCAN has awarded more than $325,000 in 33 different Innovative Program Grants to organizations throughout the state.

ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, firstgeneration college going students, and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41 percent in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45 percent as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2030. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

ABOUT WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

Wayne State University is a premiere public, urban research university located in the heart of Detroit. Founded 1868, Wayne State pursues scholarship at the highest levels and serves a diverse body of more than 27,000 students through a broad array of nearly 400 academic programs. It is one of only seven public urban universities in the United States to have received the highest Carnegie Foundation rating for both research intensiveness and community engagement. Since its inception, faculty and staff have provided a high-quality educational experience for hundreds of thousands of students, who have gone on to make outstanding contributions as corporate CEOs, government leaders, judges, teachers, policy makers, university presidents, astronauts, scientists, physicians and more.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Christopher Tremblay
Email: christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: (517) 816-7774

Download Press Release (PDF)

High schools across the state kick off Michigan College Month

Hundreds of schools work to increase the number of students applying for college throughout October

October 3, 2019 - LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Month kicks off Oct. 1 with 339 high schools participating in events statewide. Michigan College Month is part of a larger, national initiative that encourages every graduating senior to submit at least one college application and complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of October.   

High schools across Michigan will host concurrent college application and financial aid campaigns throughout the month. This is the fourth annual Michigan College Month, declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her predecessor. Michigan College Month is one of the three primary initiatives of the College Bound Michigan (CBMI) effort.

“The need for College Bound Michigan could not be clearer,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). “It’s hard to apply to and attend college, no matter how you look at it. From keeping track of forms and deadlines to figuring out how to transition from a high school to a college campus, students need help to make college a reality. CBMI brings together different components to help do just that. And Gov. Whitmer’s declaration of Michigan College Month brings even more focus, awareness and commitment to our goal of ensuring students are prepared for success.”

“This month is a great reminder to Michigan high school students to finalize the application process and plan for the next year of their lives,” Whitmer said. “Earlier this year, I set a goal to reach 60% of Michigan adults with a postsecondary degree or certification by 2030. When we encourage our students to apply for college and help them get on paths to afford a postsecondary education, we’re one step closer to reaching that goal. I’m proud to partner with the Michigan College Access Network to help get more Michigan students on paths to success.”

After modifying the initiative’s duration from one week to the entire month of October, the program structure has granted schools the flexibility to schedule resources based on their needs to best serve students and families. During the 2018 campaign, nearly 67,000 college applications were submitted by more than 38,000 high school seniors who participated in Michigan College Month events.  From 2017 to 2018, the number of applications filed was up by more than 30%, and the number of high school seniors participating increased by nearly 6,000 — nearly 20%.

“Since we kicked off our efforts in 2011, we have continued to see the needle move to increase the number of students pursuing postsecondary education,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We will continue to grow our efforts to provide an educated and sustainable workforce for Michigan, and to make a difference in the lives of Michigan’s students.”

Michigan College Month allows students to focus on solidifying where and what they want to study, and submitting college applications. College Bound Michigan then transitions into the College Cash Campaign, and students work to complete the FAFSA, helping them secure scholarships, grants and additional aid opportunities. Finally, the focus moves to Decision Day in May, a time to celebrate students and their postsecondary education plans.

“Michigan College Month is just the start of a year-round continuum for success,” Fewins-Bliss said. “When all three components are brought together, students succeed. When that happens, Michigan succeeds. By 2020, 70% of the jobs in Michigan are going to require a postsecondary education, and we are committed to doing our part to make sure Michigan is ready."

Hundreds of schools throughout the state will be designated Michigan College Month host sites, with activities to guide high school seniors through completing a college application or applying for financial aid. Many Michigan colleges also will collaborate with high schools to waive application fees or other financial barriers that may hold students back from pursuing education beyond high school.

Resources and materials will be provided to school counselors and educators by the Michigan College Access Network to guarantee schools are fully prepared to provide additional assistance to students over the coming months. In addition, schools will be dedicating classroom time to isolating the different parts of the application process so seniors have a clear, step-by-step understanding of how to determine what schools fit their individual needs.

“Navigating the college-going process can feel intimidating — especially for students who would be the first in their families to attend college,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We want every high school senior to believe they’re college material by supporting them as they weigh their options.”

ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41% in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4% of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45% as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Christopher Tremblay
Email:
christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell:
(517) 816-7774

Download Press Release (PDF)

Michigan College Access Network Community Ambassador receives national award for college access initiatives

Renee Courier-Aumock, of the Bay Area Community Foundation, earned the
Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Staff Member Award of Excellence 

October 2, 2019 - LANSING, Mich. — Renee Courier-Aumock, senior program officer of the Bay Area Community Foundation, received the Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Staff Member Award of Excellence at the National College Access Network’s (NCAN) 2019 national conference in Indianapolis. 

The award recognizes the dedication, hard work and innovation of a person working at a college access program. It’s named in memory of former NCAN director of programs, Dr. David B. Swedlow, to honor his commitment to college access.

Courier-Aumock leads a team at the Great Lakes Bay College & Career Resource Center (CCRC), which is a program of the Bay Area Community Foundation, that ensures students in Bay and Arenac Counties have the support they need to complete college. Their services include financial aid assistance, career planning, scholarships and college survival toolkits. Great Lakes Bay CCRC is a Community Ambassador of the Michigan College Access Network.

Courier-Aumock, herself, is a first-generation college graduate and understands the barriers that must be overcome to attend and complete college. With her leadership, the Bay Area Community Foundation created the Bay Commitment Scholarship that provides $2,000 each to up to 100 first-generation college students in Bay County pursuing a degree or certificate at either Saginaw Valley State University or Delta College.

“Renee’s commitment to students and higher education in her community exemplifies what it means to be an MCAN Community Ambassador,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of MCAN. “The Bay Area Community Foundation’s Great Lakes Bay College & Career Resource Center has done and will continue to do great things for low-income students, first-generation students and students of color. We are incredibly proud to have Renee and many others like her in the state of Michigan.”

MCAN’s Community Ambassador program partners with local organizations in Michigan communities to increase the MCAN’s engagement and reach in their community to ultimately increase college access and enrollment.

Aaron Faist of the Bay Area Community Foundation and Great Lakes Bay College & Career Resource Center accepted the award on behalf of Courier-Aumock. As the award recipient, Great Lakes Bay College & Career Resource Center will receive $1,000 from NCAN to put toward general operating support, scholarships and/or professional development.

ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41% in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4% of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45% as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Christopher Tremblay
Email: christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Phone: 517-816-7774

Download Press Release (PDF)

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