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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) has awarded a $20,000 Planning Grant to the Otsego Community Foundation to start the process of establishing a Local College Access Network (LCAN) in Otsego County. The funding will be used to gather baseline data, map regional assets and identify influential organizations and individuals in the county.

A key part of MCAN’s statewide strategy, LCANs are community-based college access alliances supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business and philanthropy. LCANs coordinate and expand programs, services and resources that lower barriers preventing students from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities. These coalitions are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates within their community.

“We’re thrilled to have the expertise of the Otsego Community Foundation supporting community action to increase postsecondary educational attainment and build a better economic future for students in Otsego County,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “On a personal level, I grew up in Gaylord, and I know how college can seem like an unattainable goal for many rural residents. We are committed to meeting our state’s goal of Sixty by 30 by ensuring that every student in Michigan has the opportunity to earn a certificate or degree — especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color.”

Based in Gaylord, the Otsego Community Foundation supports a wide variety of county-wide initiatives, ranging from arts and culture to community and economic development to health and human services. Since its founding in 1994, the foundation has awarded over $2.7 million in grants. As the anchor organization for the LCAN, Otsego Community Foundation will use its existing connections and reputation to bring together the region’s businesses, nonprofits and educational entities to build a college-going culture in the county.

"The planning grant sets in motion a process for aligned, community-wide activity, and systems change around postsecondary education access that will benefit all of Otsego County,” said Laura Bowen, Otsego County’s LCAN planning coordinator. “The forward-thinking, collaborative energy of an LCAN lifts everyone and builds upon the spirit of generosity, caring for its residents and mutual dependence which are already part of our county’s culture."

To learn more about MCAN’s Local College Access Networks, visit micollegeaccess.org/initiatives/lcan