Michigan College Access Network 2020 Annual Report

2016 Making it rain.

Finding funding and a strategic voice to fill the gaps.

Securing funding is instrumental for getting college access programs off the ground, as well as for providing scholarships to students to achieve postsecondary education. In 2016, we demonstrated our commitment to community investment by creating grants, identifying funding sources, and expanding our status as a leader.

“MCAN's funding model is truly unique,” says Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities and MCAN partner. “ You have the state, federal, institutional, K-12, and philanthropist sources of funding. When you have five of these coming together, that strikes and signals a buy-in and sustainability. Everybody's chipping in for this to work.”

“When I was chancellor, MCAN was so persuasive in communicating the direct value of pledging services for counselors. It's almost like MCAN is punching above its weight class; their amount of impact goes way beyond the amount of funding they receive."

— Dan Little, former chancellor at University of Michigan Dearborn and MCAN board member

Introducing Innovative Program Grants

In June, we launched our Innovative Program Grants. These grants awarded up to $10,000 for programming that increases college readiness, enrollment, and completion in local communities and across the state. Preference is given to applicants or programs that are connected to an LCAN as a comprehensive approach to increasing postsecondary attainment within a community.

Many of our grants go on to help make college a visible reality for students in Michigan. “We are the farthest county in the state from a university, so geography is a challenge for us,”says Lee Fitzpatrick, early college coordinator at Alpena Public Schools. “One thing the MCAN grants allow us to do is college visits. Since we have a high amount of rural poverty and limited access to the internet, these visits are huge for us. The students can finally see what they’ve been dreaming about.”

‘Highly effective’ – officially

This year, MCAN was also recognized as a leader in its field in the Reaching for Opportunity report. The report noted that MCAN was “highly effective” in helping communities increase the rate of students going on to postsecondary education, and detailed the need for a highly educated workforce in order to help boost Michigan’s economy. MCAN used this report as a valuable resource for outlining the challenges Michigan must overcome to meet the changing needs of a global economy, and how expanding higher education can help us solve these issues. Since its release, MCAN has moved forward on the report’s recommendations.

In 2016, MCAN also co-hosted three regional convenings known as Talent Summits. The summits targeted the Thumb, Great Lakes Bay Area, and Mid-Michigan regions, and helped us apply local context to the policy recommendations contained in the Reaching for Opportunity Report.

“MCAN knows how to use money with strategic leverage. They understand the value of data and narrative at the center of their work. And, most importantly, they know there are faces behind the data.”

— Punita Thurman, vice president at The Skillman Foundation

Hosting an NCAN conference

In September 2016, MCAN welcomed the NCAN conference to Detroit. Together with NCAN, we helped convene the conference’s largest group of attendees at the time, with approximately 1,100 college access professionals.

We also amplified our voice at the executive level. In May 2016, MCAN was honored when Gov. Snyder named former Executive Director Brandy Johnson to Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission. The commission focused on improving Michigan’s education system to better prepare students for a global economy and to position Michigan as a national leader in developing talent. Through Brandy’s participation, MCAN was able to share the concerns of Michigan communities and communicate the importance of college access and affordability at the state level. The commission consisted of 16 gubernatorial appointees, four legislative appointees, the State Board of Education president, and four state department directors or their representatives.

Top Accomplishments

  • Introduced Innovative Program Grants
  • Expanded College Application Week to 333 participating schools
  • Awarded 100 schools with Reach Higher High School Grants
  • Reorganized our internal staff structure into three departments: Capacity Building, Community Investment, and Partnerships and Advocacy
  • Saw 200+ schools across Michigan host College Decision Day events
  • Provided 2,095 veterans with individual assistance through the Michigan Veteran Education Initiative
  • Created the Advanced Maritime Academy for mature LCANs
  • Grew AdviseMI to 49 advisers
  • Helped host the NCAN conference in Detroit
  • Partnered with CollegeWeekLive to host the first Michigan Virtual College Fair
  • Released the second edition of Charting the Course
  • Saw our former Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy, Sarah Anthony, speak at the Reach Higher White House Convening at American University in Washington, D.C.
  • Celebrated former MCAN Executive Director Brandy Johnson being named to the 21st Century Education Commission by Gov. Rick Snyder
  • Held our sixth annual conference, expanding the program to two days with more than 400 attendees