Dec. 2019 – LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) announced the Building Education Success and Training (BEST) Benzie County Local College Access Network will receive a $60,000 implementation grant over two years to support their continued work facilitating a collective impact framework for increasing the college-going and completion rates in Benzie County.

MCAN’s Implementation Grants are used to activate the network as well as execute collaborative, data-driven strategic action plans. Networks with these grants also form action teams for priority areas, formalize partnership agreements and refine an asset map.

“Using our common agenda, we are focused on increasing our community’s FAFSA completion rate and college enrollment rate,” said Joshua Stoltz, executive director of Grow Benzie. “We are looking forward to hiring our first permanent coordinator to facilitate this important work.”

Local college access networks (LCANs) set goals focused on student success, establish a system of data-gathering and analysis, report results, and engage cross-sector partners in meeting goals. These LCANs coordinate programs, services and resources that lower the barriers preventing students, particularly low-income and first-generation college-going students and students of color, from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities.

“Benzie County has built a strong foundation during their planning process as evidenced by their 19-member leadership team, shared vision, and strong data dashboard,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director of MCAN. “They are leading the way for college access work in northern Michigan.”



BEST Benzie County is a countywide collaborative unified around the success of our children, county students and adult learners and the county’s economic well-being. Community agencies, businesses, educational institutions, local units of government, nonprofit organizations and others have committed to developing an educational path that will prepare all Benzie County students and residents — from early childhood through post-secondary education — for productive careers. The vision of BEST Benzie County is to promote a positive culture where education is valued and provide options that support high educational aspirations for all and continuing education and options including training and military service.


Established in 2008 by a group of local residents, Grow Benzie’s mission is to enrich the Benzie County region by fostering positive action to increase access to healthful foods, jobs, life skills and each other by providing a community place that supports and nurtures these activities. Grow Benzie’s primary goal is to deliver strong programs that align with its mission and to meet community needs.


About Michigan College Access Network (MCAN)

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41% in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4% of Michiganders have a postsecondary certificate, bringing Michigan’s official 2019 attainment rate to 45%. MCAN’s goal is to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. 


Media Contact: Christopher Tremblay 


Cell: 814-504-5650