Press Releases

Over 20,000 FAFSA Applications Submitted as a Result of the Michigan College Cash Campaign

Nearly 300 schools participated in a statewide initiative to help students apply for financial aid

April 2, 2019 - LANSING, Mich. – More than 20,000 Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) were submitted by students at 293 partner schools across the state as part of the Michigan College Access Network’s (MCAN) 2018-2019 College Cash Campaign.

Each year, MCAN coordinates with participating schools to encourage support around students’ completion of the FAFSA and scholarship applications from Nov. 1 through March 1. The promotion aims to help eligible students find financial aid to pursue education beyond high school and is one of several statewide initiatives that help students navigate the college-going process during their senior year. In total, 20,098 applications were submitted.

This year, MCAN teamed up with national scholarship platform provider, Scholly, which offers an award-winning, personalized scholarship matching and application tracking tool, to help high school seniors find money for college. Nearly 10,000 access codes were distributed to students.

“We know that filing the FAFSA is one of the leading indicators of whether or not a student will pursue college and that is why we work so hard to ensure that every high school senior has the opportunity to do so,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). “We believe that every student is college material, and we do not want perceived affordability to keep anyone from pursuing postsecondary education. The FAFSA is the only way for students to unlock access to federal loans and grants, statewide scholarships and grants, and often need and merit-based institutional and community scholarships and grants.”

The FAFSA is a free application that helps students determine their eligibility for financial aid. The form determines the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. This is used by the federal government, colleges and universities to determine what financial aid should be offered each student as grants or loans. The Michigan FAFSA tracker is here.

As part of the 2018-2019 College Cash Campaign, 293 partner schools participated to improve their FAFSA completion rate, with 84 schools achieving a 60 percent completion rate or higher.

Top five schools by percentage rate of applications as of March 1, 2019:

  • Taylor Preparatory High School
  • JC/LISD Academy: A Regional Middle College
  • Rogers City High School
  • Alanson Public School
  • Detroit International Academy for Young Women

A complete list of high-achieving College Cash Campaign sites is 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 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 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

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

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Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation receives Innovative Program Grant from Michigan College Access Network

The grant will support efforts to increase the percentage of adults in 

metro Detroit who have some college and no credential

March 19, 2019 - LANSING, Mich.— The Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation in Detroit, Michigan was awarded an Innovative Program Grant by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). This $20,000 award will be used to provide best practices for businesses to support adults with some education, but no degree, and provide solutions to develop talent and help adults complete their degrees. This effort is a part of the Detroit Drives Degrees campaign.

According to The Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation, this grant-funded initiative seeks to: 

  1. Distribute a national Bridging the Talent Gap Survey to more than 200 employers to track employer supports in education;
  2. Develop a toolkit and case studies of best practices to promote within industry areas; and
  3. Promote the importance of this issue to encourage other businesses to implement solutions that develop talent and complete degrees.

More than 690,000 adults in the metropolitan Detroit region have some college education, but did not earn a college degree.

“A staggering amount of adults in metro Detroit began their journey to earn their college degree, but were unable to finish. This grant provides critical funding to assist businesses develop best practices to support adults in Detroit to finish their college education,” said Sarah Craft, manager of Detroit Drives Degrees at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “MCAN’s Innovative Program Grant will allow us to increase our efforts to develop and utilize data to track how employers can help employees who decide to further their education.” 

Innovative Program Grants are designed to fund programming that increases college readiness, enrollment, and completion in local communities and across the state. MCAN has awarded more than $286,000 in 31 different Innovative Program Grants to organizations throughout the state since 2016.

“Adults who began the process of earning a degree need the opportunity to complete that journey, and The Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation’s initiative is an important step to helping those adults,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of the Michigan College Access Network. “Gov. Whitmer announced a statewide goal to increase the college-going rate in our state to 60 percent. To achieve the governor’s goal, and better our state, we need to broaden our focus to help more than just students. This grant will provide valuable insights into what we can do to help working adults finish and earn their college degrees.”

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ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)

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 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 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

ABOUT THE DETROIT REGIONAL CHAMBER

The Detroit Regional Chamber is a well connected and influential force powering the economy for Southeast Michigan. Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. Chamber activities and initiatives are centered on four strategic pillars: economic development, regional collaboration, education reform and member value. For more information, visit detroitchamber.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
Christopher Tremblay
Email: 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cell: 
517-816-7774

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

March 5, 2019 - LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) held its ninth annual conference in Lansing and acknowledged 11 outstanding postsecondary education practitioners and advocates from across the state at the awards dinner Monday, March 4. The theme of this year’s conference was “Fueling the Movement: Engage, Innovate, Mobilize” and emphasized how the entire network can recharge momentum to reach 60 percent of Michigan’s adult population having a college degree or certificate by year 2025. This is the fourth year the organization has given awards as part of the conference.

“The College Access Impact Awards shine a light on the individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary efforts to improve postsecondary attainment,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “The award winners play a key role in ensuring that students are college and career ready by increasing college applications, FAFSA completion rates and college enrollment. We are looking to the future, along with the students, as we cultivate tomorrow’s talent to keep Michigan as an innovative state.”

The 2019 College Access Impact Award winners are:

The Flagship Award – Oceana College Access Network
The Flagship Award recognizes those that develop sustainable college access networks. Oceana CAN has a strong focus on data disaggregation, with a specific focus on Latino students. Oceana CAN was recognized for their strong, engaged leadership team as well as their voice in advocacy.

The Marina Award – Voyageur College Preparatory High School
The Marina Award recognizes a school that has advanced a college-going culture and/or tackled systems-level change within the school by engaging all stakeholders in creating a sense of urgency around the postsecondary planning process. Voyageur College Preparatory High School received this award because they have demonstrated excellence in creating systemic initiatives within their school, such as a senior seminar that focuses solely on college and postsecondary success. They have embedded campaigns within the building that increase applications, student financial aid and postsecondary decision making.

The Ombudsman Award –Beth Brandon, Patrick Mullen Coyoy, and KeAndra Porchia
The Ombudsman Award recognizes individuals whose passion for college access helped them persevere over challenges while engaged in their year of service as an AmeriCorps member through one of the college advising programs in Michigan.

Beth Brandon is an AmeriCorps member with AdviseMI serving Plainwell High School. As a second-year adviser, Beth has presented nationally on her work in advising first-generation students. She demonstrates much humility and compassion in her efforts.

Patrick Mullen Coyoy is an AmeriCorps member with the Michigan College Advising Corps serving ACTech High School and Ypsilanti High School. Patrick is very passionate about educating and advising students in their postsecondary plans.

KeAndra Porchia is an AmeriCorps member with the Michigan State University College Advising Corps serving Summit Academy North High School in Romulus, Michigan. KeAndra uses her own experiences and knowledge to motivate students to pursue postsecondary education.

The Fleet Award – Bridge Magazine
The Fleet Award recognizes an individual or organization that has significantly contributed to the college access field outside of the walls of K-12. This publication was selected for the award because its journalism efforts are shining a spotlight on the postsecondary attainment issue.  Their stories help MCAN build good public will and they have helped garner positive attention toward the need for credentials after high school.

The Beacon Award – Chuck Wilbur, executive director, Michigan Promise Zones Association
The Beacon Award recognizes those that strengthen success through partnerships. Chuck Wilbur is the executive director of the Michigan Promise Zones Association. Wilbur has a strong and persistent commitment to equity in his work. He uses data and helps others use data to better understand the impact of their work. His ultimate strength is in galvanizing partnerships.

The Chief Mate Award – Regan Tubbs, school counselor, Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center
The Chief Mate Award recognizes a school counselor or school counseling program that has made significant strides in advancing the college readiness and enrollment supports and services to students. Regan has helped lead building-wide prioritization of postsecondary education planning. In addition, she has advocated for increasing school counseling support, dramatically increased 1:1 student interaction around the development of postsecondary education plans, as well as has pushed for increased FAFSA completion.

The Compass Award – Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI)
The Compass Award recognizes those that advocate for or support advocacy for increasing Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate. The Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI)’s data systems provide accurate and updated data to inform MCAN’s advocacy efforts. This data has assisted MCAN in case-making for funding, program support, and mission support. CEPI has been a strong partner to MCAN, always responding, consulting and providing the data when MCAN needs it.

MCAN Board of Directors Award – Representative Sarah Anthony
The Board of Directors Award is given to an individual or organization that has been particularly supportive of MCAN’s mission and the Big Goal – 60 percent by 2025. Representative Sarah Anthony was MCAN’s first hired employee and served MCAN for eight years before being elected a legislator. During her time at MCAN, she ensured MCAN was focused on equity and helped build MCAN into the national leader it currently is. She continues to champion postsecondary attainment in her work as an elected official.

The Brandy Johnson Board of Directors Award – Brandy Johnson
A surprise 11th award was given to MCAN Executive Director Brandy Johnson. This week, Johnson announced she will be leaving MCAN later this month to work as Governor Whitmer’s policy advisor for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development. In recognition of her nine years of service to the Michigan College Access Network, the Board of Directors also renamed its award to the Brandy Johnson Board of Directors Award.

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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 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 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Christopher Tremblay 
Email: christopher(a)micollegeaccess.orgThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">
Cell: 814-504-5650

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Michigan College Access Network Announces Leadership Change

Current executive director Brandy Johnson accepts new position as state policy advisor for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development

March 4, 2019 - LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) announced the departure of executive director, Brandy Johnson, on Monday, March 4 at its ninth annual conference in Lansing. Johnson will join the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as the new policy advisor for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development.

Ryan Fewins-Bliss will serve as MCAN’s interim executive director. Fewins-Bliss has served as the deputy director of community and partner mobilization for five years.

Under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Johnson served as Michigan’s college access coordinator and advised Gov. Granholm on postsecondary education policy issues. She established MCAN as a non-profit organization in 2010.

“Founding MCAN and serving as executive director for nine years has been a labor of love both personally and professionally,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “As the first person in my family to pursue a college degree, starting an organization like MCAN helped me to actualize a lifelong passion. I’m thrilled to put my master’s degree from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan to good use, and to focus on a student-centric lens that aligns with Gov. Whitmer’s agenda.”

While under Johnson’s leadership at MCAN, Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate has increased from 36 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2019. Johnson’s leadership has aided in the development and growth of MCAN, in addition to the college access movement nationally. MCAN supports statewide and local efforts to expand education beyond high school in Michigan by developing partnerships with local, state and national organizations in the education sector, offering additional training to school counselors, and working with high schools to implement college initiatives such as Michigan College Month, AdviseMI, College Cash Campaign and College Decision Day. Johnson has been the first and only Executive Director of MCAN.

Specific accomplishments of Johnson’s leadership include:

  • Founding MCAN nine years ago with one employee, and grew the staff to a team of 14. 
  • Establishing a network of nearly 30 Local College Access Networks (LCANs), designed to leverage community partners for collective impact.
  • Launching a school counselor postsecondary planning training course to address the absence of similar training provided in formal master’s degrees. Since 2013, MCAN has trained 527 high school counselors.
  • Creating AdviseMI, a statewide college advising corps program. In its four years, this program has placed more than 131 recent college graduates in communities with low college-going rates to work alongside school counselors and other staff to help students navigate the transition from high school to education beyond high school. 
  • Developing a series of grants to build up LCANs that put college in reach for more Michigan youth. These funds are for planning, implementation, and continuous improvement.
  • Establishing an annual conference to unite college access professionals and practitioners to discuss best practices, results and unique efforts. In 2019, the annual conference sold out with more than 500 attendees, representing the largest statewide college access conference in the nation.

At MCAN’s annual conference, 11 outstanding postsecondary education practitioners and advocates from across the state were recognized. A surprise 11th award was given to Johnson, recognizing her nine dedicated years of service to the Michigan College Access Network. The Board of Directors also renamed the award to the “Brandy Johnson Board of Directors Award.” 

“Brandy has been the force behind Michigan’s college access movement. She has built infrastructure, focused on equity, and modeled collaboration,” said Patrick O’Connor, MCAN Board chairperson. “MCAN looks forward to working with her in this new capacity to build off of this solid foundation. The Board is planning to launch a search for MCAN’s next executive director in the near future.”

In Johnson’s new role, she will be focused on the Governor’s statewide attainment goal of 60 percent by 2030, along with mobilizing support for the Michigan Opportunity Scholarships program and the Michigan Reconnect program.

“I am confident in the direction MCAN is headed, the impact the organization is making on Michigan’s students, and the incredible team who will continue the important work I began by sending a message to Michigan’s youth- regardless of zip codes, all students are college material,” continued Johnson.

Visit the MCAN staff page to learn more about the team dedicated to improving college attainment rates across Michigan.


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 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 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Christopher Tremblay
Email:
christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 814-504-5650

Download Press Release (PDF)

 

The Kresge Foundation awards $1.35 million for continued support of college access in Michigan

Funding will sustain current and emerging initiatives that increase postsecondary attainment rates in Michigan

March 4, 2019 - LANSING, MICH. – At the annual Michigan College Access Network conference, The Kresge Foundation announced a $1.35 million grant for the organization to continue its work to increase the number of Michigan residents pursuing and succeeding in postsecondary education. The 2.5-year grant will run from April 2019 through the end of September 2021.

The grant will support college access initiatives in MCAN’s Strategic Plan 2017-21.  The plan focuses on four priorities:  1) foster a college-going culture, 2) identify multiple postsecondary education pathways and facilitate smooth transitions, 3) improve college affordability, and 4) support credential completion.

“We are honored The Kresge Foundation recognizes and believes in our core mission to increase the number of students pursuing higher education in Michigan,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “We believe postsecondary education is a necessity and are grateful for The Kresge Foundation’s continued generosity. This grant will help us strengthen existing programs and propel us even further over the next two years.”

MCAN improves access to higher education for all Michigan residents by advocating for policy reforms that lower the barriers to college for students, sponsoring a number of statewide initiatives focused on increasing college access and delivering professional development that trains college access professionals to be highly qualified and effective college advisers.  MCAN also supports the work of nearly 30 Local College Access Networks (LCANs) throughout the state.

“There is no question that MCAN’s strategic efforts to expand college access and success throughout the state have helped boost Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate,” said Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of the education program at The Kresge Foundation. “MCAN is an outstanding organization and we’re proud to invest in its dynamic statewide efforts on behalf of all students.”

The Kresge Foundation, based in metro-Detroit, is a longtime supporter of MCAN. The foundation seeks to strengthen pathways to opportunity for people with low incomes in America’s cities, and dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. 

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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 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 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
Christopher Tremblay
Email: 
christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 
814-504-5650

Download Press Release (PDF)

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