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MCAN awards nearly $180,000 to nine Michigan high schools in Reach Higher System Impact Grants

Orange background; Title in white: "Reach Higher Grants Awards"; subtext in white: "$179,554 awarded to nine high schools"; image of two women sitting at restaurant table to the right

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) announced today that $179,554 in grant funding has been awarded to nine high schools across the state to improve college enrollment and completion outcomes. The schools received up to $20,000 in grants to focus on sustaining a college-going culture in an effort to improve postsecondary education outcomes. Since the Reach Higher grant program’s inception in 2015, MCAN has awarded more than $1.8 million to high schools.

"These schools play an important role in sparking change and facilitating systems change necessary to increase college readiness, participation and completion within their community,” said Ryan-Fewins Bliss, executive director of MCAN. “The Reach Higher grants provide a financial incentive to inspire high schools to enact a plan.”

About Reach Higher System Impact Grants  
Reach Higher System Impact Grants are awarded to high schools that are innovative, progressive, and reform-minded. Schools have demonstrated they have buy-in, engagement, and formal participation from the building principal and school counseling staff. High schools with a plan to implement a bold systems change initiative, developed utilizing local quantitative and qualitative data, to improve metrics around college and career readiness are recognized with these grant awards.  

2020 Reach Higher System Impact Grantees:  
(listed alphabetically)  

Alpena High School (Alpena, MI)  
Alpena High School will utilize the systems impact grant to develop a year-long course for a small cohort of students that will provide a toolkit of strategies students can use to begin answering the question “what’s your plus one?” postsecondary plan. The course will introduce students to a variety of academic and social-emotional support strategies through the lens of career and college readiness. The larger Plus One campaign will encompass all students, families, staff, and community employers with specific focus on students who may have disengaged or are struggling to form a postsecondary plan.   

Bath High School (Bath, MI)  
Bath High School will utilize the systems impact grant to implement a comprehensive 9-12 curriculum designed to increase postsecondary attainment and persistence. Said curriculum will be developed and continuously evaluated to address problem areas and to lessen the gap between students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The project will be driven by data and include targeted intervention, deliberate planning, and exhaustive education on postsecondary opportunities. Recognizing that the ultimate purpose is to prepare students for life beyond high school, the curriculum will provide each and every student with an opportunity to explore their postsecondary options, gain knowledge on how to pursue their plan, and provide the tools necessary to persist through their postsecondary goals.  

Howell Publics Schools (Howell, MI)  
Howell Public Schools will utilize the systems impact grant to continue building and scaling existing college and career culture. Counselors will receive additional training preparing them to lead on-going college access work within the district, teachers will be equipped with new software and curriculum to more deeply infuse college and career exploration within classrooms, parents and guardians will be provided with opportunities to learn about college and career options for their students, and partnerships with external organizations will continue to be fostered. Through these system-wide efforts, all students will graduate high school with a postsecondary plan that fits their needs.  

Maple Valley Schools (Vermontville, MI)  
Maple Valley Schools will augment their college-going culture by strengthening existing curriculum, increasing student participation in academic enrichment groups, and adding an elementary campaign to be known as “Catch the Vision.” These initiatives will be accomplished through dedicated time and staff power to enhance curriculum, the addition of a late bus option so that more students can participate in enrichment groups and structured discussions at the elementary level to ensure all students know that postsecondary planning is important and necessary.  

Milan High School (Milan, MI)  
Milan High School is working to increase postsecondary completion rates from 33% to 50% by 2025 on the path to Sixty by 30. Through the implementation of tiered college and career readiness opportunities, students will gain a deeper understanding of postsecondary options that match their interests and aptitudes. New opportunities for students include engagement with an online platform called YouScience, connection to a summer liaison who will provide individualized college readiness support, and dedicated class time for college and career planning.  

Northwest High School (Jackson, MI)  
Northwest High School will implement a peer mentoring program that provides specific support and guidance for students and enhances the college-going culture within the school and community. This program, known as the Direction of Success Near Peer Champions, will involve the creation of an alumni association that current students can go to for ongoing college and career support. In addition, the Northwest high school commons area will be repurposed to better support students in their college and career exploration. Beyond the alumni network and dedicated college and career space, professional development opportunities related to college and career access and success will be available for teachers, counselors, and other college access champions throughout the district to ensure this culture change is sustainable beyond grant terms.  

Owosso Public Schools (Owosso, MI)  
Owosso Public Schools will initiate changes to curricula across grade levels that will address college readiness with students, teachers, parents, and the community. Curricular changes will be proposed and implemented by a newly solidified group of district leaders committed to providing significant hours of professional development to change the culture and climate around career and college readiness within the district. This group of leaders will also work to provide additional programs that will communicate to students and their supporters that postsecondary education leads to increased employment options. The message communicated to students across the board is “BELIEVE you deserve an education beyond high school.”  

Pellston Middle/High School (Pellston, MI)  
Pellston Middle/High School aims to create and implement curricula that support the career development of students with specific focus on first-generation and low-income students. Curricula will be organized into a framework that will sustain itself and allow school professionals to strategically expose students to a variety of college and career exploration activities in grades 6-12. Some of the elements included in new curricula are the use of a college and career readiness software, test preparation, mindfulness lessons, personal finance, in addition to application and interview skills. These efforts will emphasize and celebrate a variety of postsecondary pathways to ensure every student is prepared to succeed after high school.  

Petoskey Public Schools (Petoskey, MI)  
The Public Schools of Petoskey believe that all students deserve the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education. In order to ensure every student understands their postsecondary options, Petoskey students will gain increased exposure to college knowledge through curriculum redesign, increased faculty engagement, and college and career exploration opportunities sprinkled throughout their K-12 education. These goals will be achieved through the development and implementation of a K-12 college/career readiness curriculum, professional development for all staff, and added interventions for special populations to create an equitable experience.  

Selection Process  
High schools were selected based on a competitive grant review process. Schools receiving the Reach Higher grants address five essential elements of a high school strategy aimed at increasing college enrollment. More information about those elements can be found on the MCAN website.

Reach Higher System Impact Grants are one of four types of grants available to high schools.  

The Reach Higher System Impact Grants awarded up to $20,000 for each school to enhance their college-going culture in support of college enrollment and attainment initiatives.