"In communities across Michigan, individuals and organizations are working tirelessly to promote college access and success, but not all are working together. When we heard about the partnerships that make up the Launch Manistee College Access Network, and how they have successfully come together to support students, we knew it was important to share their story. The network's collaborative offers a great example of incorporating AdviseMI college advisers and College Completion Corps coaches into collective impact frameworks! We know there are other great examples out there, and we want to hear them!"                

— Jenny McArdle, MCAN director of service strategy

This blog is a collaborative piece written by members of the Launch Manistee AdviseMI team.

The Launch Manistee Network, coordinated by the Manistee County Community Foundation, is Manistee County’s Local College Access Network (LCAN). Through a collective impact framework, the network seeks to establish and improve systems and pathways in the community of Manistee to promote educational attainment and success. This is accomplished via a robust community collaborative that also includes support from AdviseMI and College Completion Corps AmeriCorps programs.

Within the Launch Manistee Network, a postsecondary action team is composed of Manistee County school district counselors, AdviseMI college advisers, a College Completion Corps success coach, and admissions and financial aid directors from local community colleges. Monthly meetings, facilitated by LCAN Coordinator Hannah Rodriguez, discuss collaborative action around postsecondary enrollment and persistence. The meetings offer a time to share resources, ideas, and support systems. By working together, cross-sector leaders within the Launch Manistee Network are better able to help the students of Manistee County access and attain postsecondary education.

AdviseMI and College Completion Corps

AdviseMI college advisers Morgan Abate and Jaylee Brown work hard with the high school students they serve to ensure they have the knowledge and assistance to pursue all college opportunities. They assist students with college applications, financial aid and scholarships processes, and ultimately help guide students to making postsecondary education decisions.

For students who choose to attend West Shore Community College and meet certain criteria, another support system becomes available. Kalli Ware, a College Completion Corps success coach, supports students attending WSCC who come from low-income backgrounds, are first-generation, and/or students of color. Her goal as a success coach is to assist students by helping them persist and complete their journeys at WSCC by graduating with an associate degree or certificate.

Manistee Commitment Scholar Program

The Manistee County Community Foundation operates a scholarship program that is aligned with the goals of Launch Manistee. The Manistee Commitment Scholarship Program is aimed at building equity in postsecondary education for Manistee County students. Manistee Commitment Scholars are nominated by one of the six county school districts during their eighth-grade year and are recommended for selection by a committee of community partners. To be considered for the program, students must meet three criteria at the time of nomination:

  • Have demonstrated financial need based on statewide definition and school identification;
  • Be a first-generation, college-going student (meaning parent(s) do not have a bachelor’s or higher level degree); and
  • Show academic promise and a desire to pursue postsecondary education, as determined by student’s respective school staff.

Participating students and families commit to the program by signing a scholarship agreement that outlines expectations for all parties involved (students, parents/guardians, and the Manistee County Community Foundation). Students in this program are supported through individual advising, postsecondary exploration and experiences, and, upon successful completion of all program requirements, are eligible for a tuition scholarship to West Shore Community College.

In addition to supporting all students at their high school, AdviseMI college advisers support scholars in this program through general advising at the high school level and by participating in, and promoting, experiential learning activities that can be accessed by scholars. The first scholarship program cohort graduated in 2020. Scholars who met all requirements and chose to attend West Shore Community College began classes in the fall. In December, College Completion Corps Success Coach Kalli Wahr joined WSCC and began supporting the scholars with student success coaching. The eligibility criteria for the Manistee County Scholarship Program and the focus of College Completion Corps are aligned, so it has been a wonderful fit!

Collaborative Impact

The Manistee County Community Foundation and the Launch Manistee Network are incredibly grateful to have both AdviseMI and College Completion Corps present in the community. Our collaboration strengthens overarching work in building equity in postsecondary education access and attainment. Jaylee, Morgan, and Kalli are incredible to work with and their service to the community is sure to make a lasting impact.