MDHHS partners with GVSU and Kellogg Foundation to evaluate impact of 'Pathways to Potential' in Michigan schools

Contact: Bob Wheaton 517-373-7394

Lansing, Mich. July 24, 2014 – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services today announced that it will partner with Grand Valley State University and the Kellogg Foundation to measure the impact of the Pathways to Potential program in Michigan.

Pathways to Potential is a MDHHS program that places caseworkers in Michigan schools to help remove barriers to student success. Through a three-year, $1.05 million grant, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MDHHS will partner with the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University to study Pathways.

The Johnson Center will evaluate the impact of Pathways to Potential – which is now in 169 Michigan schools – in working with children and families to address barriers to safety, health, education, attendance and self-sufficiency.

MDHHS caseworkers called success coaches are stationed in schools so they are available to provide services to families rather than having families visit government offices to seek assistance. Pathways to Potential is now operating in schools in 13 counties – Genesee, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Macomb, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Ogemaw, Roscommon, Saginaw, St. Clair and Wayne.

“We’ve been excited to see improved attendance and others signs of success at our Pathways schools,” MDHHS Director Maura Corrigan said. “MDHHS welcomes the opportunity to have an independent evaluation of this exciting new project to help families reach their full potential.”

At the direction of Gov. Rick Snyder, MDHHS began Pathways to Potential in 2012 at schools in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw.

“We know that many children struggle in school because of outside of school challenges affecting both students and their families,” Snyder said. “The goal of Pathways to Potential is to reduce or eliminate those challenges by conveniently connecting families to the services they need to help everyone become more successful.”

The Johnson Center will examine data from Pathways schools and conduct surveys of parents, teachers and students. It will assess whether different Pathways models work better in different schools and evaluate whether schools that have better connections with community partners – a goal of Pathways to Potential – have greater gains in student outcomes. The evaluation also will analyze the return on investment for the school initiative.

The Johnson Center previously evaluated the Kent School Services Network – a project in Kent County schools that in part served as a model for Pathways.

“Pathways to Potential has the opportunity to greatly improve the lives of Michigan students and their families, and our research team is excited to begin the long-term evaluation of the program,” said Jodi Petersen, Community Research Institute senior researcher. “This research is a model of providing third-party evaluation for government programming with foundation support. We are hopeful our research will help the program’s success in the long run.”

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, the Kellogg Foundation works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. It is based in Battle Creek.

About the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University Established in 1992 with support from the Kellogg Foundation, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy promotes effective philanthropy, community improvement and excellence in nonprofit leadership through teaching, research and service. The Johnson Center is recognized for its applied research and professional development benefiting practitioners and nonprofits through its Community Research Institute, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy, The Foundation Review, The Grantmaking School, Johnson Center Philanthropy Archives and Library and Nonprofit Services.