Muskegon Community College has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) in partnership with the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) to support its students enrolled in the Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs.
Awarded through a competitive application process, the Sixty by 30 grant was announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on June 18. MCC will use the funds to boost completion rates among its adult students in the two programs. The college will hire a designated coach to contact them whenever issues arise in and outside of the classroom, as well as to proactively survey students on their needs and connect them with targeted resources to help them succeed.
“To remain a growing economic force, it is critical that Michigan improve its post-secondary education metrics,” said MCC President Dale K. Nesbary. “We at Muskegon Community College are gratified to have been awarded a Sixty by 30 grant helping the state close the existing skills gap and assist in efforts to upskill our communities. We thank Gov. Whitmer for providing us the opportunity to do just that.”
“These grants are essential to helping us provide Michiganders the education they need to get better-paying, high-skill jobs,” said Governor Whitmer. “Advancing higher education has been a day one priority for my administration, and the Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs help us accomplish our long-term goal of Sixty by 30—ensuring 60% of Michiganders have a post-secondary degree or skills training by 2030.”
At MCC, there are currently a combined 1,578 eligible Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect students, with nearly twice as many whose eligibility is pending approval by the state. In Fall 2020, 582 of the students were enrolled. The number jumped to 800 students for the Winter Semester 2021 and stands at 597 students in the current Summer Session. The deadline to apply for the Futures scholarship ended on Dec. 31, 2020, but eligible individuals may still apply for Michigan Reconnect (www.muskegoncc.edu/reconnect).
Statewide, there are presently more than 15,000 enrolled Futures for Frontliners scholarship recipients and 73,000 individuals in the Michigan Reconnect applicant pool.
“We know that it can be tough to juggle life – many who are returning to their studies will have jobs, family obligations and bills to pay which can get in the way of receiving that degree or certificate,” said Susan Corbin, LEO acting director. “At our current 49.1% credential attainment rate in the state, it will take more than just tuition assistance to get us to 60% by 2030. And that’s why our partnership with MCAN and the community colleges is so critical to offer an additional layer of support to help these students succeed.”
“To reach our state’s Sixty by 30 goal, we must ensure that students are supported once they arrive on campus, especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “Through partnering with LEO on the Sixty by 30 Success Grants and new College Completion Corps placements, we are providing resources that will help all adult students be successful as they complete their degrees or certificates.”