Press Releases

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

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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)

Michigan’s College Attainment Rate Increases for the Eighth Year in a Row

Lumina Foundation releases report highlighting increase to 45 percent

Feb. 20, 2019 - LANSING, MICH. – Michigan’s college attainment rate has increased to its highest rate ever, with 45 percent of Michigan residents aged 25 to 64 years old holding a degree or certificate, according to new census data released by the Lumina Foundation. 

In its 2019 report, “A Stronger Nation,” the foundation reported that Michigan’s degree attainment rate increased for the eighth year in a row.

“We’re thrilled to see the number of Michigan residents with a high-quality credential beyond high school continue to increase,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). “The most recent Stronger Nation report, coupled with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pledge to make postsecondary educational attainment a priority for all Michigan residents, makes us even more committed to reaching our goal of having 60 percent of Michigan residents hold a degree or postsecondary certificate.”

The Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education, began reporting the attainment rate — which includes associate degrees and higher — in 2008. That year, the rate in Michigan stood at 35.7 percent. In 2018, that rate rose to 41 percent. The report estimates that 4 percent of Michigan residents between the ages of 25 and 64 hold a high-quality certificate, which brings the state’s overall postsecondary attainment rate to 45 percent.

MCAN is working to increase college readiness, enrollment, and completion rates in the state of Michigan. In eight years, MCAN has:

To view the complete report, click here. To view the Michigan brief, click 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: 
Ryan Fewins-Bliss
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (517) 316-1713

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MCAN responds to education comments in Gov. Whitmer’s first State of the State Speech

The following statement is from Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), in response to comments about education delivered by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in her 2019 State of the State speech.

Feb. 13, 2019 - LANSING, MICH.“Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s inaugural State of the State address drew a crucial connection among Michigan’s talent pool, economic vitality and the need for postsecondary attainment. MCAN is thrilled not only with Gov. Whitmer’s ‘Blueprint’ to prioritize both K-12 and postsecondary education, but also with her bold vision of a 60 percent postsecondary attainment goal—a goal that aligns with MCAN’s agenda and aims to prepare Michigan’s residents for the jobs of tomorrow.

We applaud Gov. Whitmer’s efforts to make education a priority for all students by calling for investments in education to address the talent gap.  Affordability is a major barrier for Michigan families, and we believe the creation of the Michigan Opportunity Scholarship, which will provide a two-year debt-free pathway through Michigan’s community colleges or funding toward a four-year degree, will be an important stepping stone for students considering education beyond high school. We are also pleased she announced the ‘Michigan Reconnect’ program that will enable adults to earn a postsecondary credential valued in today’s labor market. 

The bottom line is simple: college should be accessible for all. Today’s students need a postsecondary credential to succeed in a 21st century economy. We stand ready to partner with the Governor, her administration, and the state Legislature to implement and support these important initiatives.”

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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 seventh 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 39.4 percent in 2015. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.4 percent as of 2018. 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.

 

Gov. Whitmer Declares Feb. 4 – 8 School Counseling Week

Recognition to highlight important impact school counselors have on students’ lives

 

Feb. 4, 2019 - LANSING, MICH. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared Feb. 4 – 8 School Counseling week in Michigan. The recognition aims to highlight the pivotal role that school counselors play in students’ lives by helping them explore education and career opportunities beyond high school. Professional school counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master's degree in guidance and counseling. This coincides with National School Counseling Week, declared by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA).

“School counselors play a pivotal role helping students navigate barriers to learning and explore options for education and careers beyond high school,” said Jamie Jacobs, senior director of high school innovation at MCAN. “Thanks to Michigan’s hard-working school counselors who help students explore available tools and options. Comprehensive school counseling programs position students for success and provide a vital resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators.”

Proponents of School Counseling Week applaud school counselors for being actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities and talents, and focusing on positive ways to enhance students' personal, educational and career development so they can realize their potential and accomplish their goals.

“From college applications to navigating financial aid, the guidance that school counselors provide to students is critical to helping students explore their options beyond high school,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “School Counseling Week is a way to recognize the important efforts of counselors across the state for making a difference in the lives of Michigan students.”

More than 100,000 school counselors nationwide will be participating in the week's festivities to call attention to the countless benefits of a comprehensive school counseling program.

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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 seventh 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 39.4 percent in 2016. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.7 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.

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

Download Press Release (PDF)

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