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Labor and Economic Opportunity

State hires Michigan Reconnect Navigators, invests $430K to advance Gov. Whitmer's education attainment goal

 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

CONTACT: Camara Lewis, 517-930-4928

LANSING, Mich.-The path to enrolling and graduating from college can be challenging - especially for adult learners who may be juggling family, full- and part-time jobs and bills. To help meet Gov. Whitmer's Sixty by 30 credential attainment goal and provide students with the critical support they need to successfully enroll in classes and complete a skill certificate or associate degree program, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) has hired ten Michigan Reconnect Navigators (Navigators) and invested $430,000 into the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) College Completion Corps to support Michigan's adult students.

"Navigators and Completion Coaches offer Michiganders in Reconnect the support they need to enroll and excel in skills training and associate degree programs so they can find good-paying, high-skill jobs," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "We will continue making investments at the state level to help people thrive and work towards our Sixty by 30 goal of having 60% of Michiganders with post-secondary education or skills training by 2030. Together, we can put everyone on a path to prosperity and continue our economic jumpstart."

Navigators offer Michigan Reconnect applicants, who are first-time students or have been out of school for some time, a network of support and guided assistance while they take the required steps to successfully enroll in college and participate in the Michigan Reconnect scholarship program. This includes assisting Reconnectors with accessing existing programming and assistance offered by their community college and local community and partner resources that can aid them in removing barriers to accessing their education. These barriers often include institutional debt, childcare and reliable transportation. 

"These outreach and support professionals are critical investments in helping applicants every step of the way to successfully complete a certificate or degree program," said LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin. "Support from Navigators and Completion Coaches is meant to help Reconnectors make informed decisions on their college journey by alleviating barriers and ensuring all applicants have a path to a successful future."

Navigators will help Reconnectors set career goals, identify relevant education opportunities, complete admissions and financial aid requirements and help create a plan to graduate.

"As a Navigator, I have the privilege of accompanying adult learners as they embark on their new and exciting educational journey where they will begin laying the foundation for a better career and life," said Collin Hoffmeyer, navigator, serving Northern Michigan, U.P. and Great Lakes Bay regions. "From assisting with identifying an in-demand career pathway to providing clarity on the complexity of college preparation and enrollment, my role allows me to play a valuable part in ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed."

Through LEO's investment of $430,000 in MCAN's College Completion Corps initiative, the program will expand from 18 campus partners to a total of 25 this year. Launched in Dec. 2020, MCAN trains and places AmeriCorps members on partner college campuses across Michigan to serve as dedicated Completion Coaches for students. Coaches advocate for students, foster connections and integrate into the campus support structure to address challenges that arise; facilitate group activities and meetings to boost sense of belonging and self-efficacy; and develop technology-based interaction (text, email and phone) to build focus on dates and deadlines.

The timely expansion of MCAN's College Completion Corps will increase the capacity for coaching support to recent Futures for Frontliners scholarship participants and Reconnectors, which now include a combined total of more than 88,000 Michigan residents.

"With generous funding from LEO, AmeriCorps and additional private and public support, and the Governor's commitment to supporting affordable education opportunities, it is possible to extend the reach of College Completion Corps and build capacity for coaching support at more colleges across the state," said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. "Improving college persistence and completion rates for all students in Michigan - especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color - is an essential part of meeting the state's Sixty by 30 goal."

Support from LEO will fund coaching support at the following colleges:

  • Gogebic Community College
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Lake Michigan College
  • Monroe County Community College
  • Montcalm Community College
  • Schoolcraft College
  • Southwestern Michigan College
  • St. Clair County Community College
  • Wayne County Community College District

The state encourages Reconnect applicants to take the next step in the process and complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and begin to enroll in community college or training program - it's never too late to get your degree.  

Michigan Reconnect builds on the success of the Futures for Frontliners and will pay the cost of in-district tuition, mandatory fees and contact hours for eligible adults who want to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate at a Michigan public community college.  

Reconnect scholarships are accepted by all Michigan public community colleges and are even available to eligible adults who are already enrolled at a Michigan public community college. The program pays the remaining balance of in-district tuition, contact hours and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied. For those who choose to attend an out-of-district community college, Reconnect will pay the in-district portion of tuition.  

 To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, you must: 

  • Be at least 25 years old when you apply 
  • Have lived in Michigan for a year or more 
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent 
  • Have not yet completed a college degree (associate or bachelor's) 

Interested Michiganders 25+ should visit michigan.gov/Reconnect to explore statewide and regional in-demand career opportunities and get started on their application.   

 

ABOUT MICHIGAN RECONNECT NAVIAGATORS

Navigators are here to help Reconnectors start on their path to a college degree or certificate. This includes applying for federal student aid, setting a career goal, selecting a program of study, registering for classes and creating a plan to graduate.  

Meet the Navigators and find out how they wish to support students in the Michigan Reconnect program.

ABOUT MCAN's COLLEGE COMPLETION CORPS

MCAN's College Completion Corps trains and places AmeriCorps members to serve as Completion Coaches on partner college campuses across Michigan. As a Completion Coach, each full-time member serves a campus-defined cohort of 100-150 students who are first-generation, low-income, and/or students of color, with a focus on college persistence and completion. During the 2020-21 program year, AmeriCorps members will collectively provide coaching to 2,500 community college students, resulting in 1,500 students who develop a college completion plan and 1,250 students who persist to the next year of coursework, transfer to a four-year institution, or complete a college credential.