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Michigan College Access Network Hosts Seventh Annual Conference, Announces Impact Awards

March 14, 2017 - LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) held its seventh annual conference in Lansing and announced eight outstanding postsecondary education advocates from across the state on Monday and Tuesday. The theme of this year’s conference was “Champions for Opportunity: Prioritizing Michigan’s College Attainment” and emphasized the important role leaders play in increasing college attainment in Michigan.

“The Impact Awards recognize individuals and organizations that are championing the importance of postsecondary attainment,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “The award winners have been vital to sustaining the progress our state, and more importantly, our students have made. Michigan is preparing for the careers of tomorrow and we know all of these individuals are looking to the future as well.” 

This year’s Impact Award winners were:

The Board of Directors Award – Dan DeGrow, Superintendent, St. Clair RESA

The Board of Directors Award was introduced in 2015 to recognize organizations who actively supported MCAN’s goal of raising postsecondary attainment by 60 percent by 2025 (Goal 2025). Dan DeGrow received this award to symbolize his impact on postsecondary attainment in Michigan.

During his time with St. Clair County RESA, Dan championed legislation that created the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) in 1987, the largest need-based aid program in the state. Previously, Dan served as a commissioner on Lt. Gov. Cherry’s Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, which led to major accomplishments like the Michigan Merit Curriculum, universal access to a college entrance exam (now SAT) for all juniors, creation of promise zones and launch of MCAN.

He has long supported students in St. Clair County through the RESA with significant resources for college access programming, college advising and community partnerships, and has served on all iterations of MCAN’s governing bodies.

The Beacon Award – Fostering Success Michigan
The Beacon Award recognizes those that strengthen success through partnerships. Fostering Success Michigan is a statewide initiative that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Fostering Success Michigan earned MCAN’s Beacon Award for its support of MCAN’s mission and its dedication to helping achieve Goal 2025.

The Cardinal Award – Hazel Park High School
The Cardinal Award recognizes those that enhance college access activity in communities by promoting campaigns that help create a sense of urgency around the postsecondary planning process. Hazel Park High School received the Cardinal Award due to their participation in MCAN’s statewide initiatives, including College Application Week, College Cash Campaign and Decision Day. They have been recipients of the Reach Higher grant and have made strides toward improving college access and postsecondary attainment in their community.

The Chief Mate Award – Catherine Longstreet, Counselor at Hastings High School

The Chief Mate Award recognizes a school counselor or school counseling program that significantly increased postsecondary attainment in their school. Catherine Longstreet has worked to create a college-going culture at Hastings High School. She has had success in improving college application and FAFSA completion rates, along with other college benchmarks, for Hastings students.

The Compass Award – Venessa Keesler, PhD., Deputy Superintendent, Michigan Department of Education
The Compass Award recognizes those that advocate for postsecondary attainment. Venessa Keesler was honored for spearheading the development of Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act and for her commitment to lowering barriers in education for underrepresented students. She embodies a college access champion—one who was a first-generation college student who conquered challenges before eventually graduating with degrees from Harvard and Michigan State University.

The Flagship Award – Jackson County Cradle to Career Education Network 
The Flagship Award recognizes those that develop sustainable college access networks in Michigan. Jackson C2C Network, a local college access network serving Jackson County, was selected as the recipient because of their strong commitment to growing their network and increasing degree attainment for Jackson County residents.

The Ombudsman Award – Dillon Frechen, Michigan State University College Advising Corps, Alexa Lynch, University of Michigan College Advising Corps,  Lindsay Mieden, AdviseMI

The Ombudsman Award recognizes three college advisors for their on-the-ground efforts in increasing college access and postsecondary attainment in Michigan and working toward reaching our Big Goal of 60 percent by 2025. The recipients of this award have demonstrated a passion for increasing college access, have persevered over challenges while engaged in their year of service, and have proudly represented AmeriCorps to students, families and the public.

The Steward Award – Hartland School Counseling Program
The Steward Award recognizes those that have dramatically contributed to increasing the skills, talent and knowledge of college access professional in Michigan. MCAN selected the Hartland School Counseling Program as recipient of the Steward Award because of their counselor development initiatives. Each counselor in the Hartland School Counseling Program is trained in college readiness and champions a college-going culture. Hartland School Counseling Program has also been a vital advocate for MCAN’s initiatives.

The conference featured keynote speakers Dr. Michael Sorrell, president, Paul Quinn College; Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO, Lumina Foundation; and Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, president, Institute for Higher Education Policy. 

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About Michigan College Access Network 
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s 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 sixth 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 39.3 percent in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.3 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org

Media Contact

Sarah Anthony
Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Email: Sarah(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 313-355-4078

Download the press release (PDF)

Bold College Attainment Goals Outlined in 21st Century Education Commission Report

21st Century Education Commission releases recommendations to prepare students for global economy

March 10, 2017 - LANSING, Mich.− The 21st Century Education Commission released its final report today – The Best Education System for Michigan’s Success: A Blueprint for Educating Michigan’s Resident’s to Build the Best Businesses, Win the Best Jobs and Achieve the American DreamThe main focus of the commission is improving Michigan’s education system to position our state as a national leader in developing talent. This report provides the framework to outline Michigan’s education system for the next 30 years and to better prepare students for a global economy.

This report acknowledges the economy in Michigan has changed and residents can no longer earn a family sustaining wage with only a high school diploma. The report defines valuing postsecondary education as an essential sea change that Michigan must embrace to succeed.

The report outlines ambitious college attainment goals:

  • By 2025, 70 percent or more of our 25-year-olds will have completed a college degree, occupational certificate, apprenticeship, or formal skill training. 
  • Eliminate the equity gap at the college enrollment level:  By 2025, the high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment gap between low-income and middle-income children in Michigan will have disappeared.

The commission crafting the report defines postsecondary education as education that occurs after high school that leads to a marketable credential.  Marketable credentials include: all forms of degrees, certificates and industry certifications that may be awarded by career and technical programs, colleges, or employers.

“The recommendations in this report are bold, because in order to pave the way to prosperity for Michigan’s students we need to better position Michigan’s students for success,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “I was honored to serve on this commission and our recommendations were a collaborative effort. We recognize preparing students for the jobs of the future is crucial through a skilled and educated workforce.”

The report identifies nine principles essential to designing a world-class education system.  One of these principles is to increase access to postsecondary education. “To start, our state must send a clear message:  Michigan students need a postsecondary credential to succeed in a 21st century economy and achieve the American dream, and our state is committed to eliminating family income as a barrier to obtaining those credentials.”

 The report outlines four specific recommendations:

  • Determine the proper funding level for higher education to support Michigan’s goal of being a leading state for postsecondary credential attainment
  • Support universal access to community college for all Michigan students
  • Provide scholarships to make four-year degrees more affordable for students who demonstrate merit
  • Provide every student with a counselor with expertise in helping students’ access career and postsecondary learning opportunities and strive to be at the national average ratio of 491 students per counselor with a long-term goal of meeting the 250 students per counselor ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association. 

Another principle guiding these efforts is to enhance accountability by adding measures like need for remedial coursework and degree attainment rates to Michigan’s K-12 accountability system and improve the Center for Educational Performance and Education’s data reporting system to ensure data on postsecondary education is timely, properly organized and accessible.

The 25-member commission included individuals representing education, business, government and nonprofit communities who have a particular interest or expertise in education. Important factors were weighed in the discussion, including how Michigan’s system of public education is organized, governed, funded and held accountable for successful education outcomes.

“I encourage lawmakers and those in education to shift their mindset from viewing education as a cost, to instead viewing it as a crucial investment,” said Johnson. “If we want to propel our state as a top performer in jobs and economic output, we need to consider education a necessity for our state’s future and our students.”

To learn more about the commission, go here

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About Michigan College Access Network
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s 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 sixth 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 39.3 percent in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.3 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org

Media Contact

Sarah Anthony
Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Email: Sarah(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 313-355-4078

Download the press release (PDF)

Michigan College Access Network Adds Two New Employees

New staff members will work to increase access to postsecondary education in Michigan

March 3, 2017 - LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) welcomed Domonique Clemons and Vicky L. Wright to their team to help increase Michigan residents’ college readiness, participation and completion of postsecondary degrees.

“It is crucial for MCAN to have postsecondary attainment champions on staff because passion fuels results,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN Executive Director. “Our staff is key to helping us work toward a 60 percent postsecondary attainment rate among Michigan residents by 2025.”

Domonique Clemons will serve as a program assistant for MCAN. He comes to MCAN with a variety of experiences in public policy. Prior to joining the MCAN team, he worked as a special assistant in the Michigan Senate. Clemons, a Flint native, graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in public policy. He was actively involved with student life while he was at MSU: he served as Student Body President and worked on campus issues such as diversity and inclusion, sexual assault, and college affordability.

“Increasing postsecondary attainment requires coordination between a multitude of groups,” said Clemons, program assistant, MCAN. “An alliance across the public, profit, nonprofit and community groups are what will persuade Michigan residents that college is a necessity and is for everyone.”

Vicky L. Wright will serve as the MCAN’s Operations Manager. She holds a master’s degree in Higher Education and Administration from the University of Akron, a master’s degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College. Prior to joining MCAN, Wright worked in various higher education roles at Grand Valley State University, Siena Heights University and Albion College. In her various positions, she supported first year and underrepresented students and their transition to college -- which closely aligns with MCAN’s mission.

“Studies have shown that earning a postsecondary degree significantly changes one’s economic potential,” said Wright, operations manager, MCAN. “I’m eager to expand my work with thought leaders to help residents recognize the importance of obtaining a postsecondary degree.”

Visit http://www.micollegeaccess.org/about/who-we-are#Staff to learn more about the MCAN staff dedicated to improving college attainment rates among Michigan residents.

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About Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s 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 sixth 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 39.3 percent in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.3 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.  

Media Contact

Sarah Anthony
Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Email: Sarah(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 313-355-4078

Download Press Release (PDF)

MCAN to launch advanced training course for counselors

The Advanced Counselor Course will cover topics in college and career advising for special populations

March 2, 2017 - LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) will launch an Advanced Counselor Course. The course, which covers advanced topics in college and career counseling, will kick-off on March 2 at the Kellogg Hotel & Convention Center.

The course, “College and Career Counseling for Special Populations Students,” is the first of three new courses that MCAN will launch in the next year. To participate in the advanced course, participants must have first completed MCAN’s foundational counselor course, the School Counselor Postsecondary Education Planning Training course offered by MCAN in partnership with the Go Alliance Academy. To date, 330 school counselors have completed the introductory course and 80 people are registered for the advanced training.

“This advanced course will build off of the enormous success of the initial counselor training course,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director, MCAN. “In our advanced course, participants will go beyond the basics and learn more about helping targeted populations such as students who have experienced foster care, migrant students, refugee students, students who have experienced homelessness, LGBTQ+ students and others.”

“Completing the first counselors course was instrumental to helping my students prepare for postsecondary education, I’m excited to take my knowledge to the next level” said Anissa Emery, school counselor at Oscoda High School. “I hope the advanced course amplifies my understanding about the special challenges that certain populations face while becoming college and career ready and how I can help my students navigate those obstacles.”

The course will be facilitated by Michigan experts in college advising and postsecondary planning and focuses on a variety of topics including understanding and identifying special populations, building support systems for special populations, and transitioning from high school to college.

For additional information about the Advanced Counselor Course and MCAN’s professional development strategy, please visit micollegeaccess.org.    

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About Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s 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 sixth 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 39.3 percent in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.3 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org

Media Contact

Sarah Anthony
Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Email: Sarah(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 313-355-4078

Download Press Release (PDF)

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