College & Career Access Center

Quarterly Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2020

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Virtual Advising and A New Delivery Model for the CCAC's Post-Secondary Planning Services

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Over the last nine months, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented tremendous challenges. Our Center in the Jackson Crossing closed to the public in March of this year. We reopened in June, only to be forced to shut down again in November. Though we are not scheduled to open our doors again until January 4, 2021, we are committed to our mission: Navigating ALL Jackson County residents to productive career paths. With our Center closed and all 13 of Jackson's Connected Community Schools subjected to virtual and hybrid models of instruction, we have realized the critical importance of adaptability. The recent pivot to 100% virtual planning has created a need for creative approaches as we continue to meet the needs of our students and clients. From that necessity, we have developed a 3-tiered planning approach that includes:

1. Virtual classroom presentations

2. Instructional Workshops - for parents and students

3. Week-long, on-site and virtual events dedicated to each of our 13 schools

Our goal is to mirror and replicate the current presentations and events we offer as well as provide key points of student and parent engagement in the post-secondary planning process. While we look forward to the end of this pandemic and returning to our traditional models, we also see the value and opportunity in retaining many of our best practices that have resulted from our CCAC covid response.

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NCAN Welcomes a New Cohort of Member Advocates: The CCAC is Among Those Selected

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In the Fall of 2020, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) introduced a new funding opportunity that would allow members to engage higher education policy and advocacy at the federal level. This important initiative offers NCAN members and students all around the country a valuable opportunity to make their voices heard. Through targeted and strategic advocacy, they will engage policymakers and directly influence students’ ability to access, afford, and attain a college degree.

The College and Career Access Center applied and was honored to be selected among 33 college attainment organizations in 24 states across the U.S that will engage in national higher education policy discussions over the next year. The goal of this fellowship is simple: to expand the breadth of NCAN members participating in advocacy. NCAN is committed to policy and advocacy as a critical strategy in closing the equity gaps that exist in higher education and the CCAC looks very forward to participating in that collective impact.

CCAC Introduces Jack Nowakowski - Director of Consumers Energy's Dream Maker Initiative

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Last quarter, the CCAC proudly announced our partnership with Consumers Energy's Dream Maker initiative - a program which will offer students at every grade level exposure to STEAM concepts and career-based skill development. This quarter, we would like to introduce MSU alumnus, Jack Nowakowski. In October, Jack was hired as Director of the valuable Dream Maker program, which will eventually involve expansion to engage students all across Michigan. Since October, Jack has participated in CCAC team meetings as well as advisor led training sessions designed to familiarize him with our mission, services and available resources. In turn, Jack has shared the Dream Maker model as well as the initiative’s three main pillars of success:

  • Helping students select the post-secondary program that makes the most sense for their personal interests.
  • Engaging our communities and families through the FIRST Robotics program - expanding the reach of the Dream Maker, ensuring every student has the opportunity to participate.
  • Building a better future for our communities through student support - striving to make opportunity equitable for all students in the state of Michigan, regardless of family status, location, income and ethnicity.

Mr. Nowakowski has stated, “ I am excited to get the chance to work with the CCAC to build this program and better serve communities with resources for Career and College preparation around the state.” Our advisors are equally excited to see where this collaboration and the Dream Maker initiative will take us.

The CCAC is Proud to Serve as Liaison to MCAN on Behalf of the Jackson Collaborative Network

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Early in 2020, a restructure of the Jackson Collaborative Network (JCN) led to the identification of gaps in service and communication between the local network and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). That issue was addressed in February when a contract was created between MCAN and the CCAC, designating the CCAC to serve as a liaison to MCAN on behalf of the JCN.

In this liaison role, the College & Career Access Center will review MCAN newsletters, updates, and important alerts; sharing advising specific content with CCAC staff, our partners, and the collaborative network manager. The CCAC will also actively participate in events and trainings hosted by MCAN, such as the MCAN's annual conference and Maritime Academy. In particular, the CCAC will attend LCAN convening meetings on behalf of JCN to represent Jackson's Local College Access Network (LCAN). In all cases, the CCAC will review and share information with MCAN, JCN and all collaborating partners to ensure effective communication, mutual understanding and clarity of purpose in all initiatives.

The CCAC Quarterly Business Highlight

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This quarter, the College and Career Access Center is proud to celebrate the success and growth of Kenikakes Catering and their newest venture, Sister-Sister Soul Food Café. Owner, Shakanna Blake, started her business in the summer of 2019 and gained so much popularity for her homemade soul food and desserts, she's outgrown her prior location. Shakanna recently moved to a new location on Martin Luther King Drive, opening Sister-Sister, a restaurant that features daily food and dessert specials. Due to the covid pandemic, Ms. Blake has been forced to eliminate indoor dining and has even had to close her doors at different points over the past year. While many local restaurants have struggled to stay open, Sister-Sister has worked diligently to thrive during these challenging times. The business has shifted to a take-out menu/buffet. Sister-Sister also focuses on quality food at reasonable prices and unique varieties of soul food that can’t be replicated at other restaurants. Some of the specials include seafood boils, smothered pork chops, seafood alfredo, stuffed meatloaf and barbeque pork steak as well as an amazing variety of homemade desserts.

Shakanna shared that she worked for the state of Michigan for 10 years and decided in 2019 to try starting her own business, attributing the inspiration to a favorite Maya Angelou quote - One day the need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my head. - adding, "It’s been a whirlwind but I wouldn’t change a thing." We look forward to sharing more of Shakanna’s business story in the coming months and encourage you to check out her restaurant and catering business. You can give them a call at (517) 796-1114 for business hours and daily specials.

MCAN's 13th Round of COVID-19 Response Grant Funding Leads to a new CCAC Initiative

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In the past year, Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), in partnership with other funders, has invested nearly $600,000 across the state to support high schools, local college access networks, community-based nonprofits and higher education institutions to establish post-secondary projects and programs in their communities. The College and Career Access Center of Jackson was honored to be awarded one of these COVID-19 Response Grants.

The CCAC will use its grant to support Complete to Compete, a county-wide campaign to increase awareness around college admissions and affordability. Partnering with Jackson's 13 Connected Community Schools, we are offering college and career advising, informational events and financial incentives to our high school Seniors. The fun and competitive campaign creates one more opportunity to engage students as they work toward their post-secondary goals.

A Generous Grant From the Jackson Community Foundation Creates an Opportunity for Equity and Inclusion

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In September, the Jackson Community Foundation (JCF) launched a Tackling Systemic Racism grant aimed at dismantling racist barriers embedded in local policies and practices.

The College & Career Access Center is a proud recipient of this generous grant. Our goal is to create a coalition of students from the 13 Connected School Districts who are dedicated to anti-racism practices and racial equity. This directly aligns 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 will 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 will educate, support, and empower Jackson County students to recognize and fight against racism and racial bias within their communities. The model of the Anti-Racism Coalition will be structured around monthly meetings that are scheduled to begin in 2021 and run through a twelve month, year-end schedule. Monthly meetings will involve group discussion and educational pieces. We will also reach out to community leaders who will address social issues such as systemic racism, anti-Blackness, inequity and racial bias. Through collective discussions and group learning activities, students will be provided a safe space to explore their own racial narratives and the manner in which they move through the spaces of their daily lives. Facilitation by outside organizations will prepare students to recognize racism, anti-Blackness, and racial bias as well as develop the tools to become involved locally in racial equity groups.

It's Local Scholarship Season

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It is officially scholarship season and, as of mid-November, the Jackson Community Foundation (JCF) has opened their application process. Students will notice distinctive changes as they explore JCF's local opportunities this year:

2020-21 Changes to the Legacy scholarship:

Rather than a large group receiving a small award, there will be 2 - 4 recipients receiving up to $5,000. The award will also be renewable.


The scholarship is open to graduating Seniors, Seniors preparing to take a 13th yr at JCEC, students who have received their GED and returning adults. Eligibility has also changed from 'living in Jackson County' to ‘have attended a Jackson school since 9th grade,’ Selection will still be based upon academic progress and students having met 70% of their program credit hour requirements.

Myer and Lois Franklin

The Franklin will now be an online application and will accept 200 applicants rather than 250.

  • The scholarship will still be up to $5,000 and renewable
  • The deadline will still be February 16 or until 200 applications are received
  • Only one letter of recommendation will be required

Competitive Scholarships

There will be 30 + scholarships – some have been eliminated and others have revised eligibility and requirements:

So, be sure to apply early to take advantage of this streamlined, new and improved opportunity to apply for local scholarships.

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