Press Releases

MCAN Founder Receives National Award

Lansing, MI – September 16, 2014 – Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) Executive Director and Founder Brandy Johnson was honored with the Executive Leadership Award of Excellence by the National College Access Network (NCAN) at their national conference yesterday in Phoenix. Johnson is one of only three award recipients nationally, being recognized for her contributions and leadership in sparking the college access movement in Michigan.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be receiving this recognition—from both the national organization and my colleagues and peers in Michigan,” said Brandy Johnson. “As a first-generation college student myself, I’m inspired every day to keep working toward our goal of having 60 percent of Michigan residents with high-quality degrees or credentials by the year 2025.”

In less than a decade, Johnson has cemented MCAN’s foundation by aligning the critical players and institutions and partnering with organizations ranging from philanthropy to government to business. Under her leadership, MCAN has raised over $3.5 million in federal and state funds to invest in Michigan’s college access movement. Johnson and her team have accomplished big things over the past several years, including establishing almost 50 local college access networks, providing direct training to hundreds of K-12 counselors, hosting a 450-person annual conference, and growing programs like College Application Week, Decision Day and FAFSA completion that touch tens of thousands of Michigan students each year.

Johnson’s work is making an impression nationally—earlier this summer, she was invited to join “The White House Opportunity Agenda,” a task force led by First Lady Michelle Obama that focused on the vital role of school counselors in impacting students’ college and career readiness. Johnson also spoke at the White House’s higher education summit in July.

In addition to being recognized with this award, Johnson is also a featured speaker at NCAN’s conference this week. Johnson’s session, called “Mobilizing Cross-Sector Leaders for College Access & Success,” highlights different tactics to rally community leaders to be champions in the college access movement. In Michigan, MCAN has successfully mobilized the governor, legislature, state superintendent and other relevant players to support college access statewide.

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Michigan College Access Leaders to Speak at National Conference

Lansing, MI – September 10, 2014 – A national conference focused on college access and success will feature two speakers from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

The National College Access Network (NCAN) National Conference assembles college access professionals from across the country to discuss a variety of issues related to higher education. MCAN Executive Director Brandy Johnson and Assistant Director for Network Development Ryan Fewins-Bliss will be two featured speakers during the three-day event that runs Sept. 15-17 in Phoenix.

Johnson’s session, called “Mobilizing Cross-Sector Leaders for College Access & Success,” will highlight different tactics to rally community leaders to be champions in the college access movement. In Michigan, MCAN has successfully mobilized the governor, legislature, state superintendent and other relevant players to support college access statewide.

Johnson is no stranger to speaking on the national stage. In July, she was invited to join “The White House Opportunity Agenda,” a task force led by First Lady Michelle Obama that focused on the vital role of school counselors in impacting students’ college and career readiness. Johnson also spoke at the White House’s higher education summit in July.

Fewins-Bliss will lead a panel called “Increasing Post Secondary Attainment Through Local Networks.” The panel will share different strategies on how to create and sustain local college access networks. Michigan currently houses approximately 50 local networks with nearly 800 leaders and community members participating.

The NCAN National Conference is an annual event that provides attendees with a variety of opportunities to extend networking and learning opportunities. This year’s theme, “New Heights for College Access and Success,” will feature sessions related to best practice sharing and professional development around increasing post-secondary enrollment and success of first generation, low income and minority students.

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Michigan School Counselors Complete Inaugural Postsecondary Planning Training Course

Lansing, MI – August 22, 2014 – More than 70 Michigan high school counselors are returning to their schools this September armed with new strategies to help students navigate the college-going process. The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) and Michigan Virtual University (MVU) launched the inaugural High School Counselor Postsecondary Planning Training Course last fall, where participating counselors completed an eight-month, hybrid professional development experience that focused on the college-going process.

The course included 12 sessions on topics around college access, including college affordability planning, admission processes, college and career assessments, and transition from high school graduation to college enrollment. The course was facilitated by Michigan experts in college advising and postsecondary planning.

“We are thrilled with the success of our first session of this course,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN Executive Director. “More than 70 Michigan school counselors now know the ins and outs of college admissions and financial aid process.”

MCAN is leading the way nationally in the movement to train school counselors. In July, Johnson was invited to join “The White House Opportunity Agenda,” a task force led by First Lady Michelle Obama that focused on the vital role of school counselors in impacting students’ college and career readiness. Johnson also spoke at the White House’s higher education summit in July.

The second installment of the postsecondary planning training course begins this September and is already over capacity, with more than 100 counselors registered. “The demand is definitely there, and MCAN is committed to ensuring all school counselors in Michigan are qualified to advise students on their college pathways,” said Johnson.

The course was designed collaboratively with support and expertise from Michigan Association for College Admissions Counseling (MACAC), Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO), counselor educators from Michigan universities, Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan Department of Treasury – Student Scholarships and Grants Division (SSG), Michigan School Counselor Association (MSCA), the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association (MSFAA), and the Southern Regional Education Board – Go Alliance.  Funding for this course was made possible through generous support from The Kresge Foundation.

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MCAN Executive Director to Join White House Task Force, Highlights Michigan Programs Boosting Number of College-Bound Students

Michigan College Access Network calls for communities to increase post-secondary educational attainment   

LANSING, MICH. - July 21, 2014 –
The nationally-recognized founder of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Brandy Johnson, is joining “The White House Opportunity Agenda,” a task force lead by First Lady Michelle Obama on July 28th. The task force will focus on exchanging ideas and strategies to impact students’ college and career readiness, which aligns with Johnson and MCAN’s goal of making college attainable for all.

On a media roundtable call, she discussed MCAN’s efforts in Michigan to build a stronger base statewide targeting low-income students, first-generation college students and students of color.

“Our message is simple; college is for everyone,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “As a first generation college student, I realized navigating financial aid and the college application process is overwhelming. It’s time we work to give school counselors and students the tools they need in order to be successful.”

Local college access networks (LCANs) are partnerships between school administrators, community leaders, non-profits and other groups to improve the number of college-going students. There are LCANs in more than 50 communities across the state, and many are beginning to show measureable results. The college enrollment rate of Port Huron High graduates is one example; since 2008, the enrollment rate jumped from 46 percent to 71 percent in 2013.

Michigan has recently experienced a small increase in the college attainment rate, from 36.8 percent of working-age adults (ages 25-64) with an associate’s degree, to 37.4 percent. However, our state still lags behind the national average of 39.4 percent, ranking Michigan at 34th in college graduates according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We encourage other communities to set up an LCAN if they haven’t already. The data speaks for itself. An LCAN can mobilize a community to dramatically increase college-going rates,” said Dan DeGrow, St. Clair County Regional Education Service Agency superintendent and MCAN board member. “We’ve seen a domino effect in our community, highlighting how important it is to pursue education after high school.”

The task force will include experts from across the country. The group will consider new tools that could be used to expand the impact of school counselors and the partners that support them, and learning about community level initiatives that promote equity and opportunity for students’ post secondary education.

WE CAN! Newaygo County is a newer LCAN with a community-based college and career access alliance. Currently, 23 percent of Newaygo County residents have begun or completed postsecondary education. MCAN’s goal is to have 60 percent of Michigan residents with high-quality degrees or credentials by 2025, commonly referred to as “Goal 2025.”

“I’m an LCAN Coordinator because I know first-hand how important it is for students to have the support they need to navigate the college application and financial aid process,” said Melissa Miller, WE CAN! Newaygo County Coordinator. “As a first generation college student, I understand the process can be overwhelming. I’m passionate about increasing the number of college bound graduates in Newaygo County.”

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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 36.8% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate’s degree, to 37.4%. However, Michigan’s rate still lags behind the national average of 39.4 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.  

 

Media Contact:
Lisa King, MCAN Consultant
Email: lisa at micollegeaccess.orgThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Cell: 313-451-1387

 

MCAN Elects Curtis and DeYoung to Board of Directors

Lansing, MI – June 6, 2014 – Michigan College Access Network board of directors voted and unanimously elected Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation, and Janet DeYoung, past president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, to the board of directors.

Curtis and DeYoung were identified as ideal candidates because of their commitment to college access and understanding of the disparities that exist among low-income students and first generation college-going students in Michigan. Both also bring with them a deep understanding of the role community foundations and the private sector can play in developing a community-wide strategy to improve college attainment rates.

 “The Michigan College Access Network is committed to increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates in Michigan, and Eileen and Janet bring the necessary expertise to ensure we reach our goal of increasing Michigan’s college completion rate from 37 percent to 60 percent by the year 2025,” said Amy Smitter, Michigan College Access Network board of directors chairperson.

Current board of directors members represent K-12, higher education, youth-serving nonprofit organizations, government, business and philanthropy. Members and their affiliations include:

  • Sharlonda Buckman, executive director, Detroit Parent Network
  • Laura Coleman, president, Bay College
  • Brandee Cooke, former college adviser, Michigan College Advising Corps
  • Eileen Curtis, president and CEO, Bay Area Community Foundation
  • Dan DeGrow, superintendent, St. Clair County RESA
  • Janet DeYoung, past president and CEO, Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
  • Greg Handel, senior director of workforce development, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • David Lossing, president, Michigan Municipal League board of trustees
  • Catherine M. McNamara, CPA, assurance senior manager, BDO USA, LLP
  • Patrick O’Connor, college counseling department, Cranbrook
  • George E. Ross, president, Central Michigan University
  • Amy Smitter, director of institutional development, Campus Compact

MCAN leads the charge in changing Michigan’s culture to create an expectation that every student in Michigan continue learning after high school. Since 2010, MCAN has provided 50+ communities with more than $1.8 million. This seed funding is designed to help Michigan’s Local College Access Networks establish cross-sector collaborative leadership teams and action plans to dramatically increase the community’s college-going rate. LCANs set goals focused on student success, establish a system of data gathering and analysis, report results, and hold partners accountable for performance.

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 36.8% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate’s degree, to 37.4%. However, Michigan’s rate still lags behind the national average of 39.4 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.  

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