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Grow the Middle Class

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Grow the Middle Class

To grow the state's middle class, there must be a focus on post-secondary education, from short-term skills development and job training to providing access to education at community colleges, as an equitable path to better incomes and better jobs, while also lifting families out of poverty by addressing the major costs for working families, such as child care, that prevent families from being able to make ends meet.

Goals and Objectives

Sixty by 30 - Increase Post-Secondary Attainment

Gov. Whitmer announced a goal in 2019 to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 45% then to 60% by 2030. A strong state - and a strong economy - requires a concentration of talented people who are prepared to compete in a modern workforce and solve future challenges. Sixty by 30 seeks to build a better Michigan in three ways: increase opportunity for all Michiganders and give residents greater access to the education and skills that create opportunities for better jobs and bigger paychecks; close the skills gap that challenges the success of our businesses and our state's prosperity; and make Michigan more competitive for inclusive economic growth.

Lift Families Out of Poverty and Above ALICE

ALICE  - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget. Every person who has a job should be able to earn enough to make ends meet and to lift families above the ALICE threshold we have to put more money into the hands of working people. In addition to raising incomes, we must decrease the costs that put stress of family budgets such as childcare, broadband and housing.

Educating our Talent


↑ 60% of adults with a post-secondary credential by 2030. 

  • 75,000 enrolled in Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners.
  • Alignment of all State of Michigan talent programs towards 60x30 goal.
Why This Goal Matters

Lift Michiganders Up


↑ Lift 100,000 families out of working poverty during the next five years (FY22-FY26).


 ✔ Provide access to low-or-no-cost child care for 150,000 more families by 2024.

Why This Goal Matters

Providing Free Tuition Pathways

Since launch, Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners have opened doors for Michigan's adults 25 or older and its frontline workers to seek higher education and skills training. with free or deeply discounted tuition assistance. To date, over 46,000 have enrolled with the scholarship program and over 2,000 have graduated with a certificate or associate degree. 

We reached out to several Michiganders seeking free tuition to start or continue their path to a postsecondary degree or certificate and heard first-hand what this opportunity means to them. Through their stories, we learned that tuition assistance for a free or deeply discounted credential is a chance for a better life and to contribute to their communities. 


Have enrolled with the Futures for Frontliners scholarship program


Frontliners have graduated with a skills certificate or associate degree.


Have enrolled with the Michigan Reconnect scholarship program


Reconnectors have graduated with a skills certificate or associate degree.

Michigan Reconnect Success Stories

Ed Callens - reconnector

Ed Callens - Wayne County Community College

Erica Mata - reconnector

Erica Mata - Delta College

Shabaka Bailey - Reconnector

Shabaka Bailey - Lansing Community College

Affordable Child Care

One of the biggest barriers for people seeking to rejoin the workforce is the cost of child care — resulting in more and more parents being left out of the work force. MI Tri-Share, an innovative bipartisan program introduced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was created to change all that.

Through MI Tri-Share, the cost of an employee's child care is shared equally among the employer, the employee and the State of Michigan — a three-way split — with coordination being provided regionally by a MI Tri-Share facilitator hub. With MI Tri-Share, parents can get back to work knowing that their kids are safe, cared for and have the opportunity to succeed.

Paksi_Summerhill-family mom, dad, baby and girl

Parent Success Story

Holly Summerhill couldn't be more grateful to her employer, Gratiot-Isabella RESD. Not only does she love her job as a GIRESD paraprofessional at Mt. Pleasant High School, but her employer is also sharing child care costs for her infant son, Bennett. 

Parent Success Story
outside of school district building

Employer Success Story

"The Gratiot-Isabella RESD (GIRESD) Board of Education decided to join the Tri-Share pilot program to attract and retain quality workers," says Martin Combs, GIRESD associate superintendent for special services. 

Employer Success Story

Key Initiative: The Poverty Task Force

four different images of people

Key Initiative

In December 2019, Governor Whitmer created the Michigan Poverty Task Force (PTF) to bring together 14 state department directors - working collaboratively with philanthropy, academia, economic experts, community organizations and local leaders - to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty agenda for Michigan.

In February, the Poverty Task Force released its first set of 35 policy recommendations that are designed to drive down Michigan's 37% ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) rate with sustainable strategies that center equity as a goal.  

Key Recommendations

Michigan Poverty Task Force Website

American Rescue Plan Proposals

Governor Whitmer has introduced proposals that support Michiganders getting bachelor's degrees, associates degrees and industry-recognized credentials. These in-demand credentials will support help Michiganders achieve more job opportunities and higher wages over the course of their lives.

Going PRO Talent Fund Expansion

The Talent Fund would use the $100 million investment to expand current program innovations for demand-driven, work-based learning training solutions. 

COVID Class Connect

The COVID Class Connect Fund will increase college affordability for Michigan's most underserved students, close equity gaps, reduce student loan debt and support the prosperity of local economies.

Futures for Frontliners/Reconnect Expansion

The Administration proposes investing $200 million of ARP dollars to expand eligibility for the Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect grant programs

Near Completers Fund

The $79 million COVID Near Completers Fund will increase college affordability for Michigan residents, close equity gaps, improve job opportunities, and support the advancement of local economies.

Strengthening the Industry to College Pipeline

The $70 million investment will enhance community colleges' capacity to improve college completion rates, co-develop curriculum that reflects the needs of Michigan's labor force and invest in data systems.

Wraparound Support for Reconnectors

The Administration proposes investing $15 million to provide additional wraparound services to low-income Reconnectors.

Key Proposals for Lifting Michiganders Out of Poverty

Governor Whitmer has introduced proposals to provide supports to families through expanded access to affordable, quality childcare and by stabilizing and activating Michigan's nonprofit ecosystem, while also providing different avenues for people to re-enter the labor force into higher-wage jobs through adult education and on-the-job experiences.


Michigan has received $1.4 billion in federal childcare funding. The two new rounds of stimulus were passed through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Education and Employment (E2) Program

The innovative Education and Employment program, or E2, will support partnerships between state-approved adult education programs and eligible employers to assist adults in furthering their education while working. 

Everybody In: Path to Reconnect for Individuals Without High School Diploma

The Reconnect Everybody In pathway will expand eligibility of the transformational Reconnect program to include adults 18 and over without a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent.

Michigan Second Chances Program

Providing services to returning citizens can change the trajectory of their lives by reducing recidivism and providing pathways to stable employment. 

Right Skills Now through State Apprenticeship Expansion

Right Skills Now through State Apprenticeship Expansion would amplify Michigan program policy innovations recognized nationally.