Continuous Improvement Grant


 Grant Goals   Assistance   About LCANs 
 Award   Application   About MCAN 


Continuous Improvement Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support, grow and promote the sustainability of community-based Local College Access Networks (LCANs) over the course of 12 months. As communities are ready for this grant, they are invited to apply by the Michigan College Access Network. Those LCANs that are invited to apply will have already implemented the collective impact framework. A staff member of the Michigan College Access Network must sign off on all applications prior to submission. Uninvited applications will not be considered.  Continuous Improvement Grants will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Grant Goals

Implementing a collective impact framework is a continuous improvement process. While continuous improvement should be built into the framework throughout the process, it is natural to evaluate and determine next steps once a community has completed the recommended steps as described in Charting the Course Second Edition: A Community’s Guide for Increasing Educational Attainment through the Lens of Collective Impact, available online here.

Continuous Improvement Grants will be provided with the goal of helping LCANs prepare communities to build sustainability, leverage local investment, grow the movement and strengthen collective impact within the LCAN.  To do this, applicant LCANs will propose a Network Development Plan that addresses an identified area for improvement within the LCAN as associated with one of the five conditions of collective impact. Applications that address low-income students, students of color and/or first-generation college going students are of particular interest. These plans should be designed to enhance broader network development and programmatic functioning of the LCAN in one of the conditions of the collective impact framework in order to ensure the LCAN builds sustainably and can function more effectively. Network Development Plans should prioritize improving the broader functioning of the LCAN to build a stronger foundation rather than implementing specific projects that fall within a collective impact condition but do not necessarily help the LCAN function more generally. Example Network Development Plans that may be fundable with a Continuous Improvement Grant can be found below. Please note, these are only examples. The LCAN’s Leadership Team should make strategic decisions about next steps for an LCAN within the collective impact framework. 

  • Expanding into new geography or school districts would require a revisiting of the Common Agenda. Ensuring the newly expanded area has appropriate representation on the Leadership Team and that relevant data for the new area is available and reviewed is critical to an expansion effort. This then forces the Common Agenda discussion to determine if anything must change due to that expansion.
  • Purchasing or building a data management system may help to improve Shared Measurement Systems. Utilizing technology to strengthen your data collection and analysis helps the LCAN make better decisions, serve the members of the network better and seek outside funding and support.
  • Creating alignment within a segment of related programs in a community is a good example of strengthening Mutually Reinforcing Activities.  By focusing energy and resources to streamline, connect and align programs, an LCAN strengthens the network and improves access for students and parents.
  • Building and designing methods to ensure Continuous Communication helps to build trust within the network and improve program alignment. This may include an LCAN newsletter that is regularly distributed to Leadership Team members, Action Team members and others within the network.
  • As LCANs grow and evolve, additional staffing may be necessary.  This could be accomplished through hiring employees, contracting with consultants or seeking trained volunteers. Strengthening the Backbone Infrastructure is essential in order to properly facilitate the collective impact framework within the community.

It may be helpful to identify plans that would not fit within the framework of this grant. To be clear, the concepts below are not necessarily wrong for LCANs; they merely are examples of plans that are not fundable through this grant.

  • Placing college advisers in high school buildings.
  • Developing or enhancing direct service programming, rather than developing or enhancing the network.
  • Plans that won’t ultimately increase degree/certificate attainment. (i.e. school to work, apprenticeships, licensure)
  • Efforts outside MCAN’s scope and/or mission.

It is highly recommended that applicants have a conversation with their primary contact on the MCAN staff to discuss the Network Development Plan prior to grant submission. As always, MCAN staff is available for a pre-review of a proposal prior to formal submission.

Application Assistance

MCAN staff is available to provide application assistance. Email Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Deputy Director for Community Investment, at ryan(a) to request support.

Grantees are required to submit a final report at the end of the grant period. Final reports are submitted through FluidReview.

Grant Award

Continuous Improvement Grants are available up to $25,000 with increasing match rates required for each grant an LCAN receives over time. Each Continuous Improvement Grant may not exceed a 12-month time period. All grantees will be required to match their grant funds in the following manner:

Continuous Improvement Year One Grantee:  100% match required ($25,000 grant/$25,000 match) 
Continuous Improvement Year Two Grantee:  200% match required ($25,000 grant/$50,000 match) 
Continuous Improvement Year Three Grantee:  300% match required ($25,000 grant/$75,000 match) 

Continuous Improvement Year Four Grants and beyond may be offered dependent on available grant funds. All match funds must be made in cash form, that is, no in-kind match funds will be allowed for this grant. LCANs are not required to apply for additional grants in immediate succession. For example, an LCAN may apply for a Continuous Improvement Year Two Grant months or years after closing out their Continuous Improvement Year One Grant. Part of the purpose of this grant program is to have funds available for LCANs into the future that can be accessed as able and appropriate.

For the purpose of this grant, all existing LCANs who are invited to apply for a Continuous Improvement Grant will be placed at the "Year One" level as of Fall 2013. Previously awarded Startup and/or Collective Impact Grants will not be taken into consideration when determining appropriate grant level.

Defining a Local College Access Network

Local College Access Networks (LCANs) are community-based college access coordinating bodies supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, nonprofit sector, government, business, and philanthropy. These intermediary organizations are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing the college going/completion rates within their community. LCANs coordinate and expand programs, services and resources that lower barriers preventing students from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities. LCANs organize community leaders around a singular vision and goal: Increase the community's postsecondary educational attainment level in order to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy, healthy community and strong workforce equipped to compete in a 21st century global economy. The LCAN will set goals focused on students success, establish a system of data gathering and analysis, report results and hold partners accountable for performance.

About Michigan College Access Network

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. In order to build and sustain a vibrant economy and strong communities based on a highly educated populations, MCAN works to ensure everyone in Michigan has the opportunity to access and succeed in postsecondary education. MCAN's goal is to increase the percentage of Michigan residents with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60 percent by the year 2030.

College is Postsecondary Education: MCAN uses the term "college" to refer to the attainment of valuable postsecondary credentials beyond high school, including professional/technical certificates and academic degrees.

College is a Necessity: Postsecondary education is a prerequisite to success in a knowledge-based economy. Everyone must pursue and complete a postsecondary credential or degree beyond high school.

College is for Everyone: The postsecondary education attainment rates among low-income students and students of color are significantly lower than those of other students. MCAN is committed to closing these gaps.

College is a Public Good: Postsecondary educational opportunity and attainment are critical to a just and equitable society, strong economy, and healthy communities. 

Applying for Grant Funding

MCAN uses FluidReview, an online grant submission and review system. All grant applications must be submitted through this system. Continuous Improvement applicants who already have a login with our system should be able to log in and see an option to apply for this grant. If you do not, please contact MCAN for troubleshooting. If you do not have a login yet, MCAN will issue you one when you are invited to apply for this grant. You will then be able to log in and complete the application. Only invited applicants will be authorized to apply. Please work closely with your geographic MCAN representative throughout this process.

If you would like to review the online application components, you are welcome to review this Word document version. You cannot submit the application using this Word document. This is only for review purposes.


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