Michigan Community College Association receives grant to improve student pathways to in-demand careers

LANSING — The Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) announced Feb. 9 it has received an $800,000 grant to improve student access to programs in growth areas that lead to in-demand jobs.

The grant, awarded by Madison, Wisconsin-based Ascendium Education Group, will assist Michigan’s community colleges in strengthening access to workforce development programs in six growth industries. These industries include health professions, applied business, protective services, engineering technologies, computer and information sciences and applied technology/skilled trades.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to deliver for students, helping them gain skills that will lead to successful careers,” said Mike Hansen, president of the MCCA. “Community colleges are preparing to welcome new students to campus right now through Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs. These programs make a real difference in real lives, and these skills have never been more important.”

The Michigan Center for Student Success (MCSS) is leading the effort for the MCCA and will collaborate with Aspen Institute, Community College Research Center, Jobs for the Future, and Achieving the Dream. The effort will bolster the work already underway on the campuses of Michigan’s community colleges to improve student outcomes.

“This work will build upon a decade of collaborative student success work in Michigan,” said Erica Orians, executive director for MCSS. “We’re grateful to Ascendium for their visionary leadership and for their investment in Michigan’s community colleges.”

Through the project, MCCA will help community colleges ensure that programs are designed with local labor market needs and industry-recognized credentials in mind. The grant also will assist in efforts to maintain student momentum and progress toward bachelor’s degrees.

“Community colleges are constantly thinking about how the programs we offer are preparing graduates for the work of the future,” said Peter Provenzano, chancellor of Oakland Community College and MCCA executive committee member. “This work will help our college and MCCA member colleges across the state improve clear pathways to associate and bachelor’s degrees.” — G.G.