Community Foundation Receives $50,000 for Kent County College Access Network

Michigan College Access Network Announces $364,000 in College Access Planning Grants

$50,000 Awarded to Grand Rapids Community Foundation for Kent County College Access Network

The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) recently announced that 14 communities will collectively receive more than $350,000 to support student access and success in college. The MCAN grant opportunities are designed to help Michigan communities establish local college access networks. These networks will coordinate programs, services, and resources that lower the barriers preventing students, particularly low-income and first-generation students, from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities.

For the implementation of the Kent County College Access Network (KCCAN), Grand Rapids Community Foundation is receiving a $50,000 MCAN grant.  For its part, the Community Foundation will serve as the fiduciary and convener of KCCAN.  The planning and implementation of KCCAN is being led by a collaborative team that includes: 

  • Ruth Bishop, Education Program Officer, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, Director, Pre-College Programs, Calvin College
  • Jodi Chycinski, Director of Admissions, Grand Valley State University
  • Donna Ewigleben, Community Outreach Coordinator,  Ferris State University Community Outreach, Workforce Development Committee Chairperson, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Lynn Heemstra, Executive Director, Our Community's Children, City of Grand Rapids
  • Dr. Edwin Hernandez, Program Officer, DeVos Family Foundations
  • Carol Paine-McGovern, Executive Director, Kent Schools Services Network
  • Linda Nordstrom, Assistant Director, Regional CTE Programs, Kent Intermediate School District
  • Nina Perko, Board Member, West Michigan Guidance Counselors Association
  • Raynard Ross, Director Trio/Upward Bound, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Marvin Trotter, District Recruiter and Youth Advocate Supervisor, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Prior to applying for the MCAN grant, the KCCAN leadership team participated in a six-month planning process to identify the mission and goals for a local college access network.  The team is focused on supporting and enhancing collaboration and efficiency among programs that inspire and motivate low income and/or first generation students and their families to access, enroll and succeed in college.  Its three goals aim to address significant barriers to college success, and include:

  1. Remove financial barriers:  Increase families’ financial awareness and help students apply for financial aid.
  2. Remove awareness barriers:  Engage and assist students in completing the critical steps for college entry, using the KnowHow2Go framework. (KnowHow2GOMichiganis a public-awareness campaign designed to encourage and prepare low income students and their families to take the necessary steps toward college).
  3. Remove aspirational barriers:  Build and support students’ college going aspirations. 

Work towards achieving these goals will begin in mid-October, with the launch of a community campaign and coordinating events slated for early 2011. 

KCCAN will serve all of Kent County; however, the focus for service delivery will be on the City of Grand Rapids and the inner-ring suburbs in which the vast majority of low-income and first generation students reside and attend school. 

“In order to sustain a vibrant economy in Michigan, our communities must be built on the foundation of a highly-educated population,” Brandy Johnson, Director of MCAN, said. “A high school diploma simply isn’t enough to compete in the 21st century economy. Every Michigander needs to enter the labor market with a college degree or valuable credential in hand.”

Funding from The Kresge Foundation and a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education made this round of MCAN grants possible.

About MCAN

The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) was established in 2009 in collaboration with the State of Michigan and a group of key stakeholders representing K-12, higher education, youth serving nonprofit organizations, state government, philanthropy, and business. MCAN exists to dramatically increase Michigan’s college participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income and first-generation college students. The goal of the organization is to increase the proportion of Michigan residents with college degrees and valuable credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Currently, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate hovers around 35.8 percent.

About Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Grand Rapids Community Foundation supports Kent County nonprofits and leads the community in making positive, sustainable change.  Its success is connected to the generosity of donors and the expertise of grantee organizations.

To learn more about the Kent County College Access Network, please contact Amanda St. Pierre at 616.454.1751 x119.