April 13, 2020 — LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is investing $10,000 in Alpena Community College to train additional instructors to expand virtual college credit earning opportunities for high school students in northeast Michigan.

The Video Conferencing System (VCS) Rural Student Outreach at Alpena Community College seeks to train and incentivize 11 new instructors to teach college courses in a variety of subject areas to high school students. Through this initiative, Alpena Community College plans to offer virtual college courses to five additional high schools, a 50% increase from current offerings.

“We have committed to making college courses more accessible to Alpena’s rural high schools and have invested resources in the technology and equipment to make that happen,” said Darrin Lightner, dual enrollment coordinator at Alpena Community College. “Increasing our pool of highly trained staff in the use of the Video Conferencing System will allow us to further expand our offerings to current partner high schools while establishing partnerships with additional high schools.”

MCAN’s Innovative Program Grants are designed to fund programs that increase college readiness, enrollment and completion in local communities across the state. Since these grants were introduced in 2016, MCAN has awarded more than $400,000 in 38 different Innovative Program Grants to organizations throughout Michigan.

“MCAN is excited to assist Alpena Community College in broadening their educational reach, especially to Michigan’s rural communities,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director of MCAN. “This helps reduce the impact of educational deserts on our state and provides early-college credit opportunities to students who need them most. As a person who comes from rural northern Michigan, I know the barriers are unique for these students.”


Located in Alpena, Michigan, Alpena Community College offers two-year degrees, one-year certificates, customized corporate training and community education to all of Northeast Michigan. Each semester, Alpena Community College attracts more than 2,000 students of diverse ages, backgrounds and academic goals.


As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN works to improve the futures of Michigan’s students and communities by making college accessible to all. MCAN’s work centers on one main goal: To increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. MCAN engages partners statewide who are committed to systems-level change and the reduction of barriers to increase college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color. MCAN has helped Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate increase for the 10th consecutive year. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

  • Media Contact: Christopher Tremblay
  • Email: Christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org 
  • Cell: (517) 816-7774