Press Releases

Michigan College Access Network Honors 22 Organizations and Individuals with College Access Impact Awards

March 9, 2016 - LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network held its sixth annual conference in Lansing and recognized numerous outstanding college advocates from across the state on Tuesday at their annual College Access Impact Awards dinner. Eight award categories recognized the hard work and dedication of 22 individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond to improve postsecondary attainment.

“Every one of the individuals and organizations recognized from this year’s awards have played a vital role sparking change statewide and in their communities,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “We know one of the most successful drivers for people is to hear personal accounts of perseverance when it comes to higher education. This year’s award-winners are a fantastic group of individuals and organizations who are on the ground and working to drive change by increasing the number of Michigan residents with postsecondary degrees and certificates in our state.”   

This year’s awards dinner honored outstanding college access advocates from across Michigan. The award recipients included:

The Steward Award – Dr. Patrick O’Connor
The Steward Award recognizes those who have dramatically contributed to increasing the skills, talent and knowledge of college access professionals in Michigan. MCAN selected Dr. Patrick O’Connor, the associate dean of college counseling at Cranbrook Schools, because of his leadership and outstanding work to further counselor education through MCAN’s counselor course and advocacy for legislative acknowledgement of the need for professional development. Additionally, he has provided leadership in MCAN’s Reach Higher efforts both locally and nationally.

The Flagship Award – Launch Manistee
The Flagship Award recognizes those who develop sustainable college access networks. Launch Manistee was selected as the recipient because of their dedicated to serving the organizations that support families and students in Manistee County, and for their focus on collective impact and network development.

The Compass Award - Sen. Geoff Hansen and Rep. Tim Kelly
The Compass Award recognizes relentless legislative advocates for postsecondary attainment. Sen. Hansen was honored for regularly demonstrating support for his local college access networks: WE CAN! Newaygo County, Muskegon Opportunity and Oceana County College Access Network. Senator Hansen also provided statewide support through legislation that allowed the growth and fiscal support of MCAN’s impact throughout Michigan that helped fund the launch of AdviseMI and Reach Higher High School programs.

Rep. Kelly chaired the appropriations sub-committee that approved an increase to MCAN’s total state support that allowed it to fund vital programs including AdviseMI, which placed 40 recent college graduates to serve as college advisers in 51 high-need high schools across the state as well as the Reach Higher program, awarding grant funds to 100 high schools.

The Beacon Award – 12 Partner Colleges from the AdviseMI program, including: Alma College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Madonna University, Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Flint, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

The Beacon Award recognizes those who strengthen success through partnerships. This year the partner colleges that provided financial and programmatic support for the kick-off of the AdviseMI program were selected. It is these 12 colleges that have earned MCAN’s Beacon Award through their philosophical and financial support of MCAN’s mission and activities through the AdviseMI program to place their best and brightest alums as college advisers in high schools that serve significant numbers of low-income and first generation college students across the state.

The Cardinal Award – Holton High School
The Cardinal Award recognizes those who rally communities by promoting campaigns that create a sense of urgency around the postsecondary planning process. Holton High School received this award for creating the foundation for a positive college-going culture in the high school, a willingness to take on several programs or initiatives to support students in their postsecondary pursuits and integrating a college adviser into their building and community.

The Chief Mate Award – Robert Drake
The Chief Mate Award goes to Robert Drake, the counselor at Jonesville High School, for his commitment to prioritizing college access, building a college-going culture at his high school, and creating a supporting environment to foster students’ postsecondary aspirations.

The Board of Directors Award – Lumina Foundation
The Board of Directors Award goes to Lumina Foundation for their unconditional support of the LCAN concept and commitment to public policy change in Michigan. Additionally, they made an investment in Detroit, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids through their Community Partnership for Attainment grant program.

The Ombudsman Award:

  • John Lockwood, AdviseMI
  • Ellen Goedert, Michigan College Advising Corps
  • Ashley Justice, Michigan State University College Advising Corps

Placing well-trained college advisers in high schools across the state creates strong partnerships with counselors and principals to embed a college-going culture in their building. The Ombudsman Award honors three college advisers for their on-the-ground efforts in high schools and passion for college access. 

In addition to the award ceremony, the Michigan College Access Network hosted more than 450 college access professionals and leaders during the two-day conference. The conference theme, “College Changes Everything,” focused on highlighting personal stories and showcasing the impact postsecondary education makes in our communities and in our personal live through a pre-conference, 35 breakout sessions, and three keynote speakers.

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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 college readiness, participation and completion rates in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color.  For more information, visit www.micollegeaccess.org. You also can find MCAN on Facebook at www.facebook.com/micollegeaccess.

Media Contact
Lisa King, Consultant
Email: lisa(a)micollegeaccess.org
Office: 517-316-1713
Cell: 313-451-1387

Download press release (PDF) 

Michigan College Access Network to Host Sixth Annual Network Conference

March 7, 2016 -  Lansing, Mich.- The Michigan College Access Network is excited to announce an expansion of the annual network conference this year from one day to two days packed with break-out sessions, flexible package options and comprehensive programming to support students, counselors and schools. Flexible package options allow participants to attend various programming, including pre-conference, conference and awards dinner or just the conference and awards dinner.

What: Sixth Annual Michigan College Access Network Conference

Theme: College Changes Everything

The conference theme, “College Changes Everything,” will focus on highlighting personal stories and showcasing the impact postsecondary education makes in our communities and in our personal lives.

When: Tuesday, Mar. 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
           Wednesday, Mar. 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where: The Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.

Social: Follow the conversation on Twitter at: #MCAN2016, #ReachHigher and #CollegeChangesEverything. You can also download this mobile app to have conference details at your fingertips.

Press: The conference is open to the media. We ask that you please RSVP to Lisa King at lisa(a)micollegeaccess.org or (517) 316-1713. If you are unable to RSVP, please check in at event registration. Event highlights follow. A full schedule is available at: http://www.micollegeaccess.org/events/2016-conference

Reception & Awards Dinner: MCAN will be recognizing individuals and organizations at an awards and dinner reception to recognize the hard work and dedication of those who go above and beyond to improve postsecondary attainment.The reception and awards dinner will take place at the Lansing Center on Tuesday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions: Attendees of the conference are invited to attend our breakout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9. With more than 35 breakout sessions to choose from, attendees will select from topics like: strengthening school counseling and college advising, closing the gap by working with a lens for equity, college affordability and more.

Keynotes: Join us for three special keynote speakers, including: Dr. Damon F. Arnold who is a consultant, author and motivational speaker as the lunch plenary on Tuesday, Mar. 8, Gregory M. Darnieder, senior advisor to the Secretary of the College Access Initiative, U.S. Department of Education as the Wednesday, Mar. 9 morning keynote and John Bebow who is the president and CEO of the Center for Michigan as the Wednesday, Mar. 9 lunch plenary. Our speakers will share their personal journeys and share insights on the current college-going culture in our state and country.

Thank you to the following Platinum Sponsors for the generous support of the 2016 Michigan College Access Network Conference: Central Michigan University – President’s Office, FHI360, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and The Skillman Foundation.

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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. Michigan has recently experienced a modest increase in our college attainment rate -- from 37.4 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate’s degree, to 38.4 percent. However, Michigan’s rate still lags behind the national average of 40 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: 
Lisa King, Consultant
Email: lisa(a)micollegeaccess.org 
Cell: (313) 451-1387

Download press release (PDF)

MCAN Announces New Hires in Expansion of Team to Improve College Attainment in Michigan

Operations assistant and program assistant demonstrate growing team at MCAN

January 8, 2016 - LANSING, MICH. – MCAN announces the hire of two assistants to their growing team. These individuals will help with the organization's goal of increasing the number of students in Michigan pursuing postsecondary education. Connor McLaughlin, program assistant, and Dawn Stemen, operations assistant, both started this week. In the past year, MCAN has nearly doubled its staff of dedicated individuals who are working to serve communities across Michigan, especially those with low college-going rates and low adult educational attainment rates.

"Our team is growing, along with our commitment to increase the number of Michigan residents with high-quality degrees or credentials," said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. "These two new professionals are excellent additions to our staff as we work to touch even more lives in 2016. Their experience will ensure we start the New Year off on the right foot."

Connor McLaughlin previously worked as the Dr. Kathy A. Agard Fellow in Community Philanthropy with Our State of Generosity project at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, conducting research on the history of Michigan's philanthropic infrastructure by archiving historical documents and oral history interviews. Connor holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Grand Valley University. At MCAN, McLaughlin will work to support MCAN's local community investment work through multiple high-impact programs developing the infrastructure and activity to increase Michigan's college attainment rate.

Prior to joining MCAN, Dawn Stemen served as director of educational partnerships and site director for Olivet Nazarene University's School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. She's also the office manager for the Church of the Nazarene's Michigan District. Dawn received her undergraduate degree in Office Administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University of Mount Vernon, Ohio. At MCAN, Stemen will work under the director of finance and operations and ensure day-to-day support in the office, along with maintaining constituent relations.

MCAN is also hiring a newly created position, the director of finance and operations, which will manage financial, human resources, administration and operational functions for the organization.

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. Michigan has recently experienced a modest increase in our college attainment rate -- from 37.4 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate's degree, to 38.4 percent. However, Michigan's rate still lags behind the national average of 40 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
Lisa King, communications consultant
Email: lisa(a)micollegeaccess.org
Cell: 313-451-1387

Download press release (PDF)

Michigan Veteran Education Initiative appoints new program director

December 21, 2015 - Lansing, Mich.− The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, in partnership with the Michigan College Access Network, has hired Army veteran Leonard Rusher as the new program director of the Michigan Veteran Education Initiative. The initiative is an effort to support veterans transitioning to civilian life and aid in their pursuit of a college education.

The program provides one-on-one support to help thousands of veterans in Michigan’s educational institutions by providing outreach services, support and information. The program was launched in 2014 as a partnership with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and the Michigan College Access Network.

“Between 30,000 and 50,000 veterans will leave the military and move to Michigan in the next five years,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “As a leader in the state’s college access movement, we’re incredibly excited to watch this program continue to grow and help thousands of veterans receive a college education under the leadership of Leonard Rusher.”

Rusher entered the Army in 1982 and transitioned into the Michigan Army National Guard in 1986 as a track vehicle mechanic. He became a field artillery officer in 1989 and has since been deployed twice to Kuwait for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Rusher is an adjunct professor at Baker College teaching Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism.

As the MVEI program director, he will oversee 13 veteran resource representatives who are located within 15 colleges in Michigan.

“Since the program was created, VRRs have connected with more than 1,000 student veterans and assisted many of them with education benefits, health care applications and compensation claims,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “The mission of the VRRs and the VEI program is to provide support and answers to veterans and assist them in successfully completing their education.”

Rusher holds a master’s degree in entrepreneurial management and a bachelor’s degree in marketing, both obtained from Davenport University.

To learn more about the program, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/mvei.

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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. Michigan has recently experienced a modest increase in our college attainment rate -- from 37.4 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate’s degree, to 38.4 percent. However, Michigan’s rate still lags behind the national average of 40 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 www.micollegeaccess.org

About the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
MVAA serves as the central coordinating point for Michigan veterans, connecting those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state. Learn more at MichiganVeterans.com or call 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).

 

Media Contact: Lisa King
Email:
Lisa(a)micollegeaccess.org 
Office:
517-316-1713
Cell: 313-451-1387

Download press release (MS Word)

 

MCAN applauds new campaign to increase educational attainment in Michigan

Business, government and higher education institutions join to form Michigan Higher Education Partnership  

Dec. 11, 2015 - Lansing, Mich.− The Michigan College Access Network supports the new campaign to increase educational attainment in Michigan, Keep Learning, Michigan. For all it’s worth. This campaign launches this week, aiming to improve awareness in Michigan to continue education and training beyond high school. The effort is spearheaded by the Michigan Higher Education Partnership Council, which includes a unique panel of business, government, college and university leaders who are collaborating to improve educational attainment in Michigan.

Keep Learning, Michigan has launched after a recent report from the Michigan Postsecondary Credential Attainment Workgroup. This report serves as an important roadmap to boosting postsecondary credentials in Michigan to 60 percent. Michigan needs 779,000 more citizens with education beyond high school by 2025 to meet the needs of state employers. This includes college degrees and technical certificates, and we need to grow this from 46 percent today to 60 percent by 2025.

“This campaign is an integral part of growing the number of students and adults who are thinking of continuing their education beyond high school,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “We’re backing this campaign because we know if we’re going to improve the number of students increasing their educational attainment, this needs to a be a multifaceted approach in order to fill the demand for skilled and educated workers in the economy both today and in the future.”

Currently, Michigan ranks 31st in educational attainment of working aged adults who hold an associate degree or higher. To increase the number of state residents with postsecondary credentials to 60 percent, the state will need 439,000 more citizens with technical certificates and industry-recognized certifications, 64,000 more with associate degrees, 232,000 more bachelor’s degrees and 45,000 more graduate degrees, the report states.

Average hourly wages for somebody with an associate degree or higher are nearly double those with just a high school diploma.

“We know that within the next five years, 70 percent of Michigan jobs are going to require more than a high school diploma,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, which is part of the Council. “Currently, however, only 46 percent of state residents currently have the degrees and certificates they need to be successful. We need to turn this around—and quickly—if we are going to be competitive as a state.”

The report that recommended the creation of the voluntary Michigan Higher Education Partnership council can be found here. To learn more about the initiative, visit keeplearningmichigan.com.

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Download the press release (PDF)

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