College & Career Access Center
Quarterly Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2022
Amid the Pandemic and Lagging Enrollments, The CCAC Focuses on Encouraging Silver Linings
As we wrap up the final weeks of the 2021-22 academic year, the CCAC is measuring its successes in terms of pre-pandemic and post-pandemic rates. The comparison offers a sobering look at college enrollment trends. One measurement we track closely is FAFSA completion, a leading indicator of 2-4yr college enrollments. Data shows that the FAFSA completion rate in Michigan for the 2019-20 year was 51.9%, as compared to 52.5% in the 2018-2019 year. This year (as of March 18, 2022), FAFSA completion is down to 40.4%, in contrast to 42.1% at the same time last year (March of 2021). Michigan's actual college enrollment rates show an even larger gap. 54% of Seniors from the class of 2021 enrolled in a 2-4-year institution last Fall, as opposed to the average 63% enrollment for the 3 years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid this grim outlook, the CCAC holds firm to its vision: by 2030, 60% of ALL Jackson County residents will have a valuable post-secondary credential. As always, we believe in positive progression, making a positive difference, one student at a time. We are quite encouraged by our completion rates at the county level. As of March 18, 2022, Jackson's FAFSA completion rate is a promising 54.22%, over 5% higher than the rate of 49.03% at the same time last year. As we finish the year strong and head into our Summer Melt outreach efforts, the CCAC is confident in our small but tenacious advising team.
Be sure to take a look at the Bridge Magazine article that outlines the work ahead of us.
The CCAC Virtual Planning Workshop Series
The College & Career Access Center takes great pride in constant evolution and innovation. Our advisors are constantly seeking the most creative and efficient models to deliver our services to students and their families. In March of 2020, the covid pandemic presented major challenges and our team rose to the occasion. The result: a CCAC virtual planning workshop series. Drawing upon our classroom presentations that offer students a range of planning topics to explore, the virtual series was developed. These workshops have proven to be an efficient means of offering information to a larger audience as well as a practical way to complete planning steps from the comfort of home. Monthly topics include: college and scholarship action plans and applications, FAFSA completion, resume/cover letter construction, and Decision Day planning.
Each Workshop is an hour in length and designed to deliver resources, detailed topic outlines, and tutorial instruction. The workshop presenter also reserves time at the end of each workshop to answer student questions on any planning topic and to provide virtual assistance in completing applications and other planning processes.
Dedicated FAFSA Days at the CCAC
February 21st of 2022 marked the CCAC’s 6th year hosting its annual President’s Day FAFSA Event. Another creative approach the CCAC has taken since the pandemic involves offering the Fun Fall FAFSA event and the February President's Day FAFSA event as hybrid opportunities to complete the federal application. Students and their families have the option of visiting the Center in-person or joining via Zoom. At our most recent event, we were proud to see representation from 9 of our 13 districts. We also enjoyed or second largest turnout in the history of this event.
The CCAC's Commitment to Social and Racial Justice
One of our many resulting points of pride, is the formation of the CCAC Jackson Student Anti-Racism coalition. In September 2020, the Jackson Community Foundation (JCF) launched a Tackling Systemic Racism grant aimed at dismantling racist barriers embedded in local policies and practices. The CCAC was honored to be one of the grant recipients. Our goal was to create a coalition of students from the 13 Connected School Districts who would be dedicated to anti-racism practices and racial equity. In direct alignment with our focus on closing the gap to post-secondary education for our students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students, the coalition was formed.
The goal of the ARC is to actively work toward tearing down historical systemic barriers through developing student understanding of what those barriers are, how they came into being, and how we can resolve them. The coalition educates, supports, and empowers Jackson County students to recognize and fight against racism and racial bias within their communities. The model of the Anti-Racism Coalition is structured around monthly meetings that involve group discussions and educational pieces developed through the 21 Day Equity Challenge.
Through collective discussions and group learning activities, students are provided a safe space to explore their own racial narratives and the manner in which they move through the spaces of their daily lives. Our co-chairs, Brian Green, Mary Rodriguez and Dr. Dominick Quinney, Assistant Professor of ethnic Studies at Albion College, facilitate our monthly sessions on racism and racial bias as well as the development of tools to become aware and involved in racial equity organizations.
The College and Career Access Center also participates in professional development through webinars monthly, a monthly video series, as well as group readings and discussions on various social, racial and cultural themes. Our learnings and dialogues have culminated into the CCAC's Team Equity Statement:
- Diversity is having a variety of identities or characteristics present including race, religion, ethnicity, gender orientation, age, and socio-economic status.
- Equity is the act of giving a person, or group of people, what they need w/focused actions that meet people where they are with differentiated strategies.
- Inclusion is a qualitative measure of representation and participation. Inclusion focuses on ensuring authentic representation, empowered participation, true belonging, and power sharing.
You may also visit our CCAC website to view each advisor's personal equity statement:
CCAC Office Community Initiatives Coordination
Over the last two quarters, the CCAC has focused more energy on our existing as well as new partnerships and collaborations within the Jackson community. Just a few of our community initiatives include:
- Lux Languages - Spanish and English Courses
- Summer Outreach at the YMCA, MLK Center, and Jackson Housing Commission
- Acceler8 Driving Instruction
- The Jackson County Student Anti-Racism Coalition
The final quarter of 2021 saw two new partnerships that the CCAC looks forward developing in 2022 - collaboration with Lt. Andy Stoner, of the Michigan State Police Department, and his Plan-Prepare Perform Program as well as Steve Castle and Atalie Schwartz of the Jackson Interfaith Shelter. Plan-Prepare-Perform provides a series of training, system support and guidance to troubled youths toward mentorship and employment opportunities. The CCAC has been honored to participate in this valuable initiative, offering workshops on career assessment, resume construction and interview skill development. The CCAC provides similar workshops to the Jackson Interfaith Shelter. This valuable collaboration provides resources to Jackson County’s vulnerable homeless population, assisting these individuals in taking planning steps toward post-secondary education, career training and long-term employment.
Welcome to the CCAC Quarterly Business Highlight:
This quarter, the CCAC is pleased to showcase River Raisin Wares. This unique business was established in 2021 as a result of, owner, Julie Roberts’ lifelong affinity for beautiful, handcrafted leather. She explains, her love of fine leather began in her youth while raising and showing horses. She has always admired the elegance of intricately designed saddles and boots. During Julie’s high school years, she was able to continue her partiality for beautiful leather, selling fine shoes and handbags for Jacobson's Department Store in Jackson. She also dabbled in leather working and basket making as hobbies during much of her youth.
Mrs. Roberts’ adult life became consumed with completing college degrees, working, and raising a family. As the busy years passed, hobbies from her early days were tucked away. After retiring in 2021, from a blessed 30+ year career as a high school educator, Julie began to revisit the interests that enjoyed and now had more time to pursue. Hence, the inception of River Raisin Wares, Handcrafted Leather Goods. She began to revisit the artisan craft of leather working, taking a couple of classes at the Ann Arbor Folk School. Needless to say, she recaptured her passion and has been captivated with crafting ever since.
The business name is a tribute to Julie’s her parents and her fond memories of the family farm, from which a tributary of the River Raisin gracefully flows. Her years spent there bring great joy and happiness, providing perfect artistic inspiration.. The Artisan experience of leather crafting nourishes her soul and propels the outstanding creativity found in her one-of-a kind products. Julie even built a home studio, providing space to hone her leather mastery.
Julie states, “I’m a long way from being a master leather crafter, but the challenge to become one is fascinating and gratifying.”
Samples of Julie’s work can be seen on her Facebook page:
River Raisin Wares. https://www.facebook.com/River-Raisin-Wares-105237862060001