Press Releases

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

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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)

Michigan College Access Network invests $10,000 to encourage early postsecondary exposure in Redford

The grant will support the launch of the Warriors WILL program to encourage early postsecondary education exposure, experience and success.

September 11, 2019 - LANSING, Mich.— Students at Redford’s Westfield Preparatory High School will have the chance to sample college experiences and explore careers thanks to a $10,000 Innovative Program Grant from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

The award will launch the Warriors WILL (Willingly Innovate Learn and Lead) program that encourages early postsecondary exposure, experience and success for all students.

The grant-funded initiative will have two components:

  • Summer enrichment and intervention program.
  • High school dual enrollment, starting with ninth graders.

The weeklong summer enrichment and intervention program includes career exploration, 21st century skills, team building, field trips and college tours. The high school dual enrollment experience will focus on completing a college-level speech or humanities course, as well as a campus visit.

“Warriors WILL enables us to identify students with academic gaps which will, in turn, allow us to be proactive about interventions and remediations,” said Aquan Grant, founder and principal of Westfield Prep. “We also look forward to giving students the chance to experience college-level coursework with guidance from both high school and college staff to increase college enrollment and success.”

“This initiative aligns with our goal of Sixty by 30 and provides opportunities for students who can benefit from early college credit programs,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of MCAN. “We are looking forward to Warriors WILL leading to increases in college enrollment and completion for Westfield Prep students.”

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 $300,000 in 32 grants to organizations throughout the state with grants of up to $10,000.

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.

ABOUT WESTFIELD PREPARATORY HIGH SCHOOL

Founded in 2019, Westfield Preparatory High School is a new charter school in Redford, Michigan, authorized by Grand Valley State University.  The school is managed by PrepNet, and the school’s mission is “Preparing for college success.” Each graduate of this school is required to complete a minimum of two Advanced Placement courses, two approved college courses over the 100-level, or one AP course and one approved college course over the 100-level, make successful application to a four-year college or university, complete 60 hours of community service, and successfully complete an individualized senior project. For more information, visit nhaschools.com/schools/westfield-preparatory-high-school/en.

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

Download Press Release (PDF)

Youth in foster care have stronger college access opportunity thanks to Ferris State University President

August 27, 2019 - LANSING, Mich.− Youth in foster care and adoptive families now have a stronger path forward toward higher education thanks to Ferris State University. 

In line with the Michigan College Access Network’s (MCAN) mission to increase college participation and The New Foster Care’s (TNFC) goal of supporting youth transitioning out of foster care, MCAN and TNFC commend Ferris President David Eisler and his wife Patsy for their recent establishment of the Norris and Irene Johnson Scholarship Endowment. 

Ferris recently announced the creation of the Endowment after the Eisler family chose to memorialize Patsy’s adoptive parents, Norris and Irene Johnson, with a $350,000 scholarship endowment. The Ferris Foundation has matched that gift through the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge, creating $700,000 in scholarship support for former foster care youth to attend Ferris and earn a bachelor’s degree. 

“MCAN is thrilled to learn of this new and important resource for youth in foster care.  This is a tremendous commitment to increasing college access and expanding opportunity for those students often left behind by our systems,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN’s interim executive director. “The Eisler’s support for youth in foster care and adoptive families to consider higher education is an incredible gift as is the inclusion of these students in the Ferris family.” 

According to Casey Family Programs, 70 percent of youth in foster care report that they want to attend college, but fewer than 10 percent who graduate from high school enroll in college, and of those less than one percent graduate from college.

"I was honored to meet with Dr. David Eisler while doing a Fostering Success Michigan campus tour for youth who have experienced foster care," said Khadija Walker-Fobbs, Executive Director of The New Foster Care. "His vision and passion for all youth, combined with the mentor and coaching supports provided through the Ferris Youth Initiative foster care support program, create a legacy of leadership and generational change." 

The State of Michigan also recognizes the importance of assisting youth in foster care and adoptive families through the Fostering Futures Scholarship, made possible by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Treasury. 

“Care and responsibility for children and youth in foster care is everyone’s business,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Services Agency. “All of our youth deserve an opportunity to pursue their dreams of a higher education and a fair chance to succeed in adulthood. With this generous donation the Eislers and Ferris State are helping our youth realize their dreams of a college education.”

For more information about the Norris and Irene Johnson Scholarship Endowment, visit ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/archive/2019/august/eisler.htm. For more information about the Ferris Youth Initiative visit ferris.edu/diversity/FOFYI/. Learn more about MCAN at micollegeaccess.org, TNFC at thenewfostercare.org, and Fostering Success Michigan at FosteringSuccessMichigan.com.

About Michigan College Access Network 

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission 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 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

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

Download Press Release (PDF)

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