Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County Students Participating in FAFSA Challenge to Receive Nearly $54 Million in Student Aid

Detroit, Mich. (April 3, 2018) – More than 6,500 students in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties that participated in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” challenge will receive an estimated $53.5 million in funding from completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For the second year, the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative held the challenge to encourage high school seniors to apply for college aid and increase the regional completion rate.

The Chamber launched the challenge last year, but despite the hard work of school counselors and local college access networks, Southeast Michigan students left potentially $167 million in federal aid on the table by not filling out the FAFSA. According to the National College Access Network, high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college.

The goal of the challenge is to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to 65 percent and encourage them to take the next step to postsecondary education. The current completion rate for the three counties is 50 percent, and will increase through the open application period, which closes on June 30.

Sixty-five schools throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties registered for the competition. The 2018 winners include:

  • Grand Prize Winner for Overall Most Improved FAFSA Completion: Frontier International Academy (Detroit) 45 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Medium Schools: Cesar Chavez Academy High School (Detroit) 31 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Large Schools: Fordson High School (Dearborn), 11 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Innovative FAFSA Completion Strategy: Voyageur College Preparatory High School (Detroit) 65 percent completion rate.
  • Highest Overall FAFSA Completion Rate: Trillium Academy (Taylor) 84 percent completion rate.

As grand prize winner, Frontier International Academy will be awarded an all-day senior class party and the four other winners will receive VIP movie screenings, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment.

The challenge was a collaborative effort involving the following partners: Detroit College Access Network (DCAN), Emagine Entertainment, Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Oakland Schools, Wayne RESA, and several local college access networks. The challenge was supported by: Chemical Bank, the Detroit Pistons, DTE Energy, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, Kerkstra Precast and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

 About Detroit Drives Degrees

Detroit Drives Degrees works to improve education attainment to increase economic prosperity and social mobility in the Detroit region. An initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy, it is dedicated to increasing access to college, improving college graduation success and retaining graduates. The Leadership Council, formed through the initiative, mobilizes regional leaders in business, education, government and the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to increase the postsecondary degree attainment rate in the region to 60 percent by 2025. To learn more, visit detroitdrivesdegrees.com.

About Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

About the Detroit College Access Network

The Detroit College Access Network (DCAN) is the coordinating body of cross-sector leaders and organizations in Detroit working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend college. It is a network of organizations – bigger than any one program or initiative – leveraging a collective impact model to align and connect existing programs, schools, businesses and community resources to improve college enrollment and graduation rates for all Detroit students. DCAN’s mission is to increase postsecondary readiness, enrollment and attainment so that all students in Detroit can achieve their educational dreams. To learn more, visit detroitcan.org.

About Emagine Entertainment

Emagine Entertainment’s affiliates currently own and operate luxury theatres in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota.  Emagine operates theatres with a combined 24,500 seats and 208 screens. Later this summer, Emagine will open an 8-screen theatre in the Town of Lyons, Wisconsin.  Emagine has led the way in bringing luxury theatres to the metropolitan Detroit market.  Emagine enjoys the honor and distinction of being named “Best Movie Theatre” for several years running by the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, and WDIV-TV 4 television.

About the Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, the Michigan College Access Network’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income, first-generation college-going students, and students of color. For the seventh year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased – from 35.7 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 39.4 percent in 2016. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.7 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County Students Participating in FAFSA Challenge to Receive Nearly $54 Million in Student Aid

Detroit, Mich. (April 3, 2018) – More than 6,500 students in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties that participated in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” challenge will receive an estimated $53.5 million in funding from completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For the second year, the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative held the challenge to encourage high school seniors to apply for college aid and increase the regional completion rate.

The Chamber launched the challenge last year, but despite the hard work of school counselors and local college access networks, Southeast Michigan students left potentially $167 million in federal aid on the table by not filling out the FAFSA. According to the National College Access Network, high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college.

The goal of the challenge is to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to 65 percent and encourage them to take the next step to postsecondary education. The current completion rate for the three counties is 50 percent, and will increase through the open application period, which closes on June 30.

Sixty-five schools throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties registered for the competition. The 2018 winners include:

  • Grand Prize Winner for Overall Most Improved FAFSA Completion: Frontier International Academy (Detroit) 45 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Medium Schools: Cesar Chavez Academy High School (Detroit) 31 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Large Schools: Fordson High School (Dearborn), 11 percentage point improvement.
  • Most Innovative FAFSA Completion Strategy: Voyageur College Preparatory High School (Detroit) 65 percent completion rate.
  • Highest Overall FAFSA Completion Rate: Trillium Academy (Taylor) 84 percent completion rate.

As grand prize winner, Frontier International Academy will be awarded an all-day senior class party and the four other winners will receive VIP movie screenings, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment.

The challenge was a collaborative effort involving the following partners: Detroit College Access Network (DCAN), Emagine Entertainment, Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Oakland Schools, Wayne RESA, and several local college access networks. The challenge was supported by: Chemical Bank, the Detroit Pistons, DTE Energy, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, Kerkstra Precast and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

 About Detroit Drives Degrees

Detroit Drives Degrees works to improve education attainment to increase economic prosperity and social mobility in the Detroit region. An initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy, it is dedicated to increasing access to college, improving college graduation success and retaining graduates. The Leadership Council, formed through the initiative, mobilizes regional leaders in business, education, government and the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to increase the postsecondary degree attainment rate in the region to 60 percent by 2025. To learn more, visit detroitdrivesdegrees.com.

About Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

About the Detroit College Access Network

The Detroit College Access Network (DCAN) is the coordinating body of cross-sector leaders and organizations in Detroit working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend college. It is a network of organizations – bigger than any one program or initiative – leveraging a collective impact model to align and connect existing programs, schools, businesses and community resources to improve college enrollment and graduation rates for all Detroit students. DCAN’s mission is to increase postsecondary readiness, enrollment and attainment so that all students in Detroit can achieve their educational dreams. To learn more, visit detroitcan.org.

About Emagine Entertainment

Emagine Entertainment’s affiliates currently own and operate luxury theatres in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota.  Emagine operates theatres with a combined 24,500 seats and 208 screens. Later this summer, Emagine will open an 8-screen theatre in the Town of Lyons, Wisconsin.  Emagine has led the way in bringing luxury theatres to the metropolitan Detroit market.  Emagine enjoys the honor and distinction of being named “Best Movie Theatre” for several years running by the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, and WDIV-TV 4 television.

About the Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, the Michigan College Access Network’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income, first-generation college-going students, and students of color. For the seventh year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased – from 35.7 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 39.4 percent in 2016. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.7 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

Press Release: MCAN College Access Impact Awards Recognize Three Metro Detroit Organizations and Individuals

Detroit Regional Chamber, Hazel Park adviser and Chandler Park adviser awarded for contributions to increasing postsecondary attainment

LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) held its eighth annual conference in Lansing and recognized numerous outstanding college advocates from across the state on Monday at the annual College Access Impact Awards dinner, including Britteny Mitchell, a Michigan College Advising Corps adviser at Chandler Park High School, Moussa Traore, a Michigan State University College Advising Corps adviser at Hazel Park High School, and the Detroit Regional Chamber. Seven award categories recognized the hard work and dedication of 12 individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond to improve postsecondary educational attainment in Michigan.

Mitchell and Traore are both recipients of the Ombudsman award, for their service at Chandler Park Academy and Hazel Park High School, respectively. The Ombudsman Award recognizes individuals whose passion for college access helps them persevere over challenges while engaged in their year of service as an AmeriCorps member through one of the college advising programs within the state.

The Detroit Regional Chamber earned MCAN’s Beacon Award because of their strong leadership in the college access and degree completion space, their innovative FAFSA Challenge, their long-­‐term and ongoing support for the Detroit College Access Network and Detroit Drives Degrees, as well as their support of the Detroit Promise. The Beacon Award recognizes those that work to unite programs, activities and/or operations in support of postsecondary attainment through partnerships.

“Our annual conference celebrates the individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to improve postsecondary attainment in Michigan,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “Congratulations to Britteny, Moussa, the Detroit Regional Chamber and all of our outstanding award winners. Their commitment to creating a college-­‐going culture in Michigan is making a difference in the lives of countless high school students.”

In addition to the award ceremony, the Michigan College Access Network hosted hundreds of college access professionals and education leaders during the two-­‐day conference. The conference theme, “Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent,” emphasized the important role  talent development plays in improving   the future  of  Michigan.  MCAN  supports  initiatives  to  help  students  as  they  pursue  postsecondary education  in Michigan.

The Annual Conference included numerous breakout sessions and three keynote speakers: Michele Siqueiros, president, of The Campaign for College Opportunity, Laura Owen, director of the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success at American University, and John Fox, head of Mopar sales and operations at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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About Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-­‐income students, first-­‐generation college going students, and students of color. For the seventh year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7 percent of 25-­‐to-­‐64-­‐year-­‐olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 39.4 percent in 2016. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-­‐quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.7 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by  the year 2025. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

Detroit Drives Degrees Kicks off Annual Challenge to Connect More Students with College Financial Aid

By Tiffany Jones

In an effort to put more of the $90 million in federal aid that went unclaimed in Michigan last year into the hands of students, Detroit Drives Degrees kicked off its second annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” Challenge, which promotes the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Challenge offers incentives to students, counselors and high schools to complete the form and runs through Feb. 28, 2018. Detroit Drives Degrees, an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit strategy, works to strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing the number of adults with postsecondary degrees in the region.

The goal of the Challenge is to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to 65 percent. In its inaugural year, the Challenge and a variety of other efforts boosted the completion rate to 59 percent in 2016, up from 55.6 percent.

The National College Access Network states that high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college and by 2025, 70 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential.

In order to participate, high schools must register at DetroitDrivesDegrees.com. More than 85 schools participated in the 2016 competition. The school with the highest completion rate will win a senior all-night party, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment. Additional prizes from Emagine and the Detroit Pistons will be awarded to participating schools and student teams across the region.

The Challenge is sponsored by Chemical Bank, DTE Energy, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, Kerkstra Precast and University of Michigan-Dearborn. In addition to Emagine Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons, other Challenge partners include: Detroit College Access Network, Frank FAFSA, Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan College Access Network, Oakland Community College, Oakland Schools, University of Michigan, Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency, and numerous local college access networks.

Detroit Regional Chamber Recognizes Local High Schools for FAFSA Completion Improvements with “Race to the FAFSA Line” Challenge

As part of the Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) initiative, which aims to improve regional postsecondary outcomes, the Detroit Regional Chamber today announced winners of its Student Aid Challenge for Southeast Michigan, “Race to the FAFSA Line,” at the Talent Outlook D3 breakfast at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Despite the hard work of school counselors and local college access networks last year, Michigan students left more than $90 million of federal aid on the table by not filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). According to the National College Access Network, high school graduates who complete FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college.

The goal of the challenge was to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to 60 percent by July 1, 2017. This year, the challenge and a variety of other efforts boosted regional FAFSA completion to 48 percent through March 3, compared to 38 percent through the same date one year ago.

The challenge was a collaborative effort involving partners such as the Michigan College Access Network, Detroit College Access Network, Emagine Entertainment, Oakland Schools, Wayne RESA, and several local college access networks.

More than 85 schools throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties registered for the competition. 2017 winners included:

  • Grand Prize Winner: Overall Most Improved FAFSA Completion: Trillium Academy – 37 percent improvement since 2016 (Taylor)
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Medium Schools: South Lake High School – 8 percent improvement since 2016 (St. Clair Shores)
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Large Schools: Western International High School – 8 percent improvement since 2016 (Detroit)
  • Most Innovative FAFSA Completion Strategy: Cornerstone Health & Technology High School – 20 percent improvement since 2016 (Detroit)
  • Highest Overall FAFSA Completion Rate: University High School Academy – 91 percent FAFSA completion rate (Southfield)

As grand prize winner, Trillium Academy will be awarded an all-night senior class party and the four other winners will receive VIP movie screenings, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment.

About the Detroit College Access Network

The Detroit College Access Network (DCAN) is the coordinating body of cross-sector leaders and organizations in Detroit working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend college. Specifically, DCAN serves as the citywide coordinating body for the college access and enrollment strategy at Excellent Schools Detroit. It is a network of organizations – bigger than any one program or initiative – leveraging a collective impact model to align and connect existing programs, schools, businesses and community resources to improve college enrollment and graduation rates for all Detroit students.

About Detroit Drives Degrees

Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) is a catalyst for postsecondary degree attainment in the Detroit region, which is critical to achieving economic prosperity. The goals are to increase access to postsecondary education, improve postsecondary graduation success rates, and retain and attract graduate talent in the region.

About Emagine Entertainment, Inc

Emagine Entertainment’s affiliates own and operate luxury theatres in Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. Emagine operates theatres with a combined 30,000 seats and 217 screens. Emagine has led the way in bringing luxury theatres to the metropolitan Detroit market with 76 of its 94 auditoriums already converted to power recliner seats. Emagine enjoys the honor and distinction of being named “Best Movie Theatre” for several years running by the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, and WDIV television. Emagine is a recognized innovator in the theatrical exhibition industry having been the first theatre chain in the world to convert to 100% digital projection.

About the Michigan College Access Network

The Michigan College Access Network’s mission is to increase college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income, first-generation college going students, and students of color. They are a member of the National College Access Network.

Detroit Regional Chamber Joins Coalition to Focus on Equity and Excellence in Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

The Detroit Regional Chamber joins the Michigan Students Achieve Coalition to ensure Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, focuses on academic excellence for all students. The Coalition, announced last week, will provide recommendations to the ESSA plan, being prepared by the Michigan Department of Education and is expected to be completed in the spring. The plan will be used to comply with the new federal education law, passed in 2015, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and focuses on the opportunity and responsibility for improving outcomes, accountability for all groups of students and improvement actions on the state and local school districts. The other coalition members include: Black Family Development, Detroit Branch NAACP, Education Trust-Midwest, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Urban League, Michigan Alliance for Special Education, Michigan Association of United Ways, Michigan College Access Network, Michigan State Branch NAACP and the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan.

“It’s no secret that not enough of our students are adequately prepared for life after high school,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of The Detroit Regional Chamber. “The success of our region, depends on the success of our talent. It is critical that Michigan’s ESSA plan prioritizes equal access and opportunity for all students.”

Learn more about ESSA and the Coalition’s recommendations.