Butzel Long attorney Geaneen M. Arends elected to firm’s Board of Directors; Attorney is the first person of color elected to serve in this role

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long’s newly elected Board member and Vice President, Geaneen M. Arends, is the first person of color and third woman to serve in this law firm leadership role in the firm’s 167 year history.

Last October, Arends, a shareholder, was named Practice Department Chair for the firm’s Corporate and Real Estate Practice Departments. She is responsible for the management and oversight of the firm’s Corporate and Real Estate attorneys who report to her as well as for the strategic goals, budgeting, forecasting, and direction of the practice groups.

“We are very pleased to welcome Geaneen to our Board,” said Justin G. Klimko, President and CEO, Butzel Long. “Her perspective, insights and judgment will be valuable to our deliberations. Her election to the Board is a recognition by her peers of her talent and leadership abilities.”

Based in the firm’s Detroit office, Arends concentrates her practice in mergers and acquisitions, business formation, general business and commercial real estate transactions.

“This is a pivotal moment for me in my career and for Butzel Long,” said Arends. “I am honored to be the first person of color in the firm’s history to be elected to the firm’s Board of Directors.

“As a mother to twin daughters, I strive to be a strong role model and they know their future is limitless,” she added. “I look forward to serving in this important Butzel Long role.”

Arends’ long-time commitment to pro-bono work and community service is well-known. She serves as First Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Historical Society (Detroit Historical Museum and Dossin Great Lakes Museum) and is a Trustee of the Detroit Educational Television Foundation/Detroit Public Television (Detroit PBS). She also serves on the Steering Committee for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots Celebration.

Arends is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serves on the Real Estate Advisory Board for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and is an alumna of Leadership Detroit, Class XXVII. She also is the Chair of Butzel Long’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Arends is a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A., History, 1994) and Boston College Law School (J.D., 1998). She is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Butzel Long President and CEO Justin G. Klimko to receive ACG Detroit’s Lifetime Achievement Award

DETROIT, Mich. – Justin G. Klimko, President and CEO, Butzel Long, will receive the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Detroit Lifetime Achievement Award at an event later this year. The award is presented as part of ACG Detroit’s Annual M&A All Star Awards. Klimko is a Board Member and Secretary of ACG Detroit.

Klimko, based in the firm’s Detroit office, has extensive experience in securities regulation, corporate financing, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and general corporate matters, areas in which he has practiced since 1980. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for business law matters and is ranked as one of Michigan’s leading corporate and M&A lawyers. He is a past chair of the State Bar of Michigan Business Law Section and a past recipient of the Section’s Stephen H. Schulman Outstanding Business Lawyer Award. He co-chairs the Section’s Corporate Laws Committee, responsible for development of Michigan’s corporate statute. He also has chaired the Section’s Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Opinions, which has issued reports to address opinion issues in business transactions, including issues specific to Michigan law, and is a member of the TriBar Opinion Committee, a national committee addressing opinions in business transaction.

Klimko previously taught corporation law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School, frequently lectures and authors articles on business law subjects and has served as general editor of a treatise on Michigan Business Forms and as a contributing author for a treatise on Michigan contract law.

He is included in the publication The Best Lawyers in America and enjoys an “AV” rating from the Martindale-Hubbell rating system. Klimko is rated one of Michigan’s top Corporate/M&A attorneys by Chambers USA Guide of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and is listed in Michigan Super Lawyers (Mergers and Acquisitions).

About the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG)

ACG is a global organization with 59 chapters and 14,500 members including professionals from private equity firms, corporations and lenders that invest in middle-market companies, as well as from law, accounting, investment banking and other firms that provide advisory services.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Perspective and Facts: Detroit News Coverage on Detroit Promise and Detroit Promise Path

On Thursday, March 18, the Detroit News published an in-depth article on the Detroit Promise and Detroit Promise Path program, Detroit’s College Aid Program Falls Short, but Hopes Remain. The article was largely positive as it highlighted many of the successes of this unique program. The article also covered elements of the independent review of the Promise program conducted by the MDRC, a nationally recognized educational research and evaluation organization, which titled their report “Motor City Momentum”. The principal investigator of the study commented, “Everyone should take away the results of the Detroit Promise Path as positive.”

The Detroit News hosted a webinar on the Detroit Promise on March 25. It then published a column by Nolan Finley, ‘Old College Try’ Tougher for Many, a column by Bankole Thompson, Detroit Should Promise Students More Than Money, and an article, ‘Without that Support, I Don’t know if I Would Have Made it’ Student Says of Detroit Promise Path.

The Promise became the first program in the country, out of almost 300, to create a robust support program for its students – beyond securing access to a post-secondary experience and removing the tuition barrier. The Promise implemented a ground- breaking intrusive student coaching model designed to help these Detroit-based, largely persons of color, high poverty students with not just academic coaching, but personal engagement to help them overcome significant challenges outside of the classroom.

The Detroit Promise and the Promise Path is funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, with the support of major national and local foundations and the City’s Promise Zone Authority.

Important Facts And Perspectives You Should Know About The Detroit Promise And Detroit Promise Path

The Promise Path is an innovative program based on successful nationwide models for improving community college graduation rates for low-income, first-generation students. Detroit Promise Path students, in addition to a tuition-free access to a college experience and small stipends, are assigned coaches to help them overcome both academic and personal barriers to graduation.

Key Promise Program Data Points:

  • Because of the Detroit Promise an additional 36% of students are still pursuing a two-year or four-year degree program. This is a significant “persistence rate” increase strongly indicating future graduations beyond the three-year study period.
  • MDRC found that Detroit Promise Path students with a coach outperformed students without coaches in numerous key measures:
    • They were more likely to enroll in college the year after high school than those who were not.
    • They were more likely to enroll full-time.
    • They were more likely to stay enrolled from year to year.
    • They were three times as likely to enroll in summer classes, a key indicator of eventual graduation.
    • They earned more college credits.
  • Students valued their coaches, with 90% considered their coaching valuable or very valuable according to MDRC research.
  • The program is remarkably affordable. The Detroit Promise Path costs only $1,944 per student over the three years of the program, compared with over $10,000 per student in other areas. Additional program resources, to assist students with transportation, books, and basic living expenses could have a profound impact on program results.

Addressing the Graduation Rate Issue:

  • The actual graduation rate for Detroit Promise Path students was 10.7%, not the 7.2% reported in the article, after three years. This clarification has been communicated to the Detroit News.
  • While MDRC’s standard evaluation period for community college graduation rate is three years, this standard is hard to adapt to the Detroit model:
    • Detroit Promise Path students overwhelmingly enroll as part-time students, making graduating in three years, even under normal circumstances, exceptionally difficult.
    • About three-quarters of Detroit Promise students must start their college experience with remedial, non-credit courses, further adding to the graduation challenge.
  • Coaches for the Detroit Promise Path report that only a half of coaching engagements are focused on academics, the balance addressed life issues such as housing or food insecurity, transportation issues, or other personal or family challenges – strongly indicating the immense challenges these students face beyond being first generation college goers.
  • In addition to the 10.7% of students who had graduated after three years, another 36% were still enrolled in higher-ed.
  • Bottom line: Detroit Promise Path has clearly demonstrated the program is successful in keeping these students enrolled and on a path to graduation – just not in the three-year study time period.

The Promise Program Meets Detroit Students Where They Are – Not Where We Wish They Were:

  • While improving in recent years, Detroit has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation – and the Promise provides an avenue for any Detroiter graduating from any Detroit high school (regardless of governance) to attend any of the five regional community colleges – regardless of high school performance.
  • MDRC reported that Detroit Promise students experienced higher poverty and homelessness levels than students participating in other community college success efforts.
  • MDRC noted that students cited reliable, affordable transportation as their single biggest barrier to remaining in school, not academic challenges.

Comparisons to Other Regions or Promise-like Programs Can Be Misleading Due to the Profile of Detroit Promise Students:

  • Detroit has the highest childhood poverty rate of any large city in the country.
  • Detroit 4th and 8th-grade students have consistently scored lower than students anywhere in the country on the National Assessment of Education Progress for more than ten years. These are the students we are trying to get successfully through college now.
  • When the pandemic struck, the Detroit Promise program secured Wi-Fi and personal computers to more than 10% of students. These students previously relied on public or shared computers – or their hand-held phones – for schoolwork.

Detroit Promise Path is a National Model: 

  • MDRC was encouraged by the Detroit Promise Path and our commitment to student success that they launched their national College Promise Success Initiative, citing the success of the Detroit Promise Path as its inspiration.
  • The Detroit approach has served as an inspiration of others. Similar programs such as those in Flint, MI and the State of Rhode Island have cited the Detroit Promise Path as their model.
  • Promise Path staff have been featured at multiple national education events to present on the program’s approach and successes.
  • One of the most important long-term benefits of the program is to send a message to all Detroiters from an early age that college is for everyone – including them – and cost is not a barrier.

Failure is Not an Option:

  • The State of Michigan forecasts the 75% of jobs in the state will require a twoyear or four-year degree or a skilled certificate.
  • Currently, 49% of Detroit Region adults have a two-year or four-year degree or skilled certificate.
  • Failure to adequately educate these young Detroiters will place their economic and social futures at risk – and serve as a drag on economic growth and prosperity for all.
  • Employers are in battle for the best educated talent. Detroit and Michigan’s ability to build a well-educated workforce is a critical for economic development.
  • MEEF and Chamber officials have always agreed that bringing this student community to degree or certificate completion would be difficult and take longer than other student cohorts.

The Detroit Promise Path Continues to Innovate:

  • A hallmark of the partnership between the MEEF, Chamber, and Mayor’s office in supporting the Promise is to always look for ways to improve – this is an ongoing and collaborative process.
  • Given the extreme cost efficiency of the Detroit Promise and Detroit Promise Path program compared to others across the nation, every additional dollar raised could be used to address the barriers the MDRC report uncovered – aiding our students with transportation to and from school, securing basic technology and course books, and addressing food and housing insecurity issues.

Chamber President Joins Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, Regional Leaders to Rally Around Reconnecters to Boost Adult Student Success, Retain Local Talent

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II today joined with state, education, business, and community leaders, including Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah, in pledging support for nearly 37,000 Southeast Michigan residents who’ve applied for a Michigan Reconnect scholarship in its first two months.

Approximately 57% of all the nearly 65,000 applicants statewide live in Southeast Michigan, including 7,500 in Detroit. Per capita, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, respectively, have the largest number of applicants in the region. A map shows Southeast Michigan applicants by county.

Statewide, newly released data from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) also shows:

  • 67% are female
  • 2 in 5 are people of color
  • 32% are Black
  • One-third are 25-29 years old
  • Nearly 4,000 are 55 and older

The massive influx of applicants far exceeds expectations and LEO’s initial goal to enlist 60,000 applicants by Memorial Day. Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said he believes Reconnect will help close significant educational gaps – specifically, those related to race and ethnicity.

“It’s crucial that we work together to boost educational attainment beyond high school. Now more than ever, economic opportunity and social mobility are directly tied to educational attainment,” Gilchrist said.

Adults without a college degree or training credential often face economic challenges. Research shows an education beyond high school opens the door to many new opportunities – with earnings of $7,500 more per year for those with a two-year degree.

“These numbers show the excitement across Michigan for a chance at a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate,” said LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin. “Along with the rest of the state, we are excited to see the many ways Michigan Reconnect will help advance the social and economic well-being of our communities.”

Corbin made her comments today at a LEO virtual news conference where Southeast Michigan education, business, and community leaders discussed Reconnect and the regional benefits for residents pursuing a postsecondary degree.

Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to make it easier and more affordable for residents 25 or older without a college degree – more than 4.1 million statewide – to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate at their in-district community college or private training school.

Data released March 25 shows that 36,725 Southeast Michigan residents have applied for Reconnect since its debut Feb. 2. Applicants and those eligible in the region include 387 (44,256 eligible) in Lapeer County, 540 (47,792) in Lenawee County, 638 (72,628) in Livingston County, 6,934 (395,117) in Macomb County, 1,063 (71,448) in Monroe County, 6,968 (396,224) in Oakland County, 106 (22,436) in Sanilac County, 866 (77,873) in St. Clair County, 1,909 (84,797) in Washtenaw County and 17,314 (800,343) in Wayne County.

Reconnect scholarships are accepted by all Michigan community colleges and are also available to eligible adults already enrolled in their local community college. The program pays the remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied. For those who choose to attend an out-of-district community college, Reconnect will pay the in-district portion of tuition.

Community colleges across the state have already accepted thousands of “Reconnecters” for classes beginning this summer.

Henry Ford College President Russell A. Kavalhuna said many students face life challenges that affect education, like paying bills, caring for family, technology, work schedules, and food insecurity. That’s why Henry Ford College and others across Michigan offer support to address these specific needs.

“College should be a pathway, not an obstacle,” Kavalhuna said. “Our goal is to meet students where they are, with what they need, when they need it.”

Pontiac resident Danielle Ybarra, 29, was recently accepted into Reconnect and is looking forward to returning to Oakland Community College (OCC) this fall to complete the associate degree she started in 2010.

“When I started at OCC, I was determined to complete my degree no matter how long it took,” Ybarra said. “But, like a lot of other people, it’s not always easy balancing school, work, and a family. Michigan Reconnect is a huge opportunity for me to finally finish the degree I’ve always wanted.”

Michigan employers’ ability to find highly skilled employees is more difficult than ever.

Increasing educational attainment is a pillar of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s mission, understanding that advanced training is important for the business community, said President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah.

“There are almost 700,000 people in our region who started college but never finished a degree,” Baruah said. “With 75% of the jobs of the future requiring a postsecondary degree, the chamber believes businesses have a critical role to play in advancing educational opportunities. The Michigan Reconnect program allows companies to support their employees in attaining talent and skills needed for the global marketplace.”

The Chamber has been a long-time champion of the drive to have 60% of adults with a two-year or four-year degree or a skilled certificate by the year 2030. We have to get adults currently in the workforce to finish that degree or credential – that’s good for them, their families, their communities, and our employers.

In addition to the work being done with the Reconnect program, the Chamber is actively working with businesses, led by its CEO Talent Council, chaired by Kelly CEO Peter Quigley, to encourage businesses to:

  • Implement programs that allow employees the flex time necessary to balance return-to-school, work, and family. 
  • Offer incentives – such as financial support for books and incidentals that ease the path to that degree. 
  • And work with employees to create a career pathway that makes clear the benefits of adding to their education. 

Organizations and individuals from all sectors of the state’s economy have pledged to promote awareness of the program as Reconnect Champions, including Oakland County Executive David Coulter.

“This isn’t just a hypothetical, pie-in-the-sky program. Michigan Reconnect is definitely going to help real people who are looking to improve their quality of life and prepare for the future,” Coulter said.

To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, you must be at least 25 years old when you apply, have lived in Michigan for a year or more, have a high school diploma, and have not yet completed a college degree (associate or bachelor’s).

Eligible residents can learn more and apply for Michigan Reconnect at Michigan.gov/Reconnect.

Chamber Statement on Solidarity with the AAPI Community

“The attack and murder of Asian Americans in the Atlanta area earlier this month was a tragic reminder of how much more work our society needs to do to address violence and racism. Unfortunately, events like this have become far too common for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community even here in the Detroit region. The Detroit Regional Chamber denounces violence and hate in all its forms, and we stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.”

– Tammy Carnrike, Chief Operating Officer for the Detroit Regional Chamber

W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Equity, Opportunity and Hope

March 24, 2021

W.W. Kellogg Foundation 

New research is now available on the experiences of Black Americans in the U.S. private sector. Produced by McKinsey & Company, in collaboration with Walmart, PolicyLink and WKKF, the report summarizes the concentration of the Black labor force by geography, industry and occupation and the organizational challenges that limit advancement for people of color. Most important, it shares the voices and perspectives of Black workers, offering wisdom and guidance for transforming corporate workplace cultures and ways of doing business.

Michigan is leading the way in oral health, as dental therapy programs in the state will soon be a reality. Michigan dental therapists will work in areas of greatest need, where communities don’t have access to care. Dental therapists like those who began in Alaska – are creating jobs in the communities they serve, reaching underserved populations, providing cost-effective care and increasing access through innovation.

With support from the Baobá Fund for Racial Equity, a new Brazilian podcast on Black women in the workforce is up and running. It is called Jogo de Cintura (an expression referring to agility, especially in navigating difficult situations) and covers themes such as diversity and inclusion, equal rights and opportunities and the challenges of pursing a new career. The Baobá Fund was created in 2011 with an endowment match-funded by WKKF.

Cosmopolitan magazine article about Black-owned home brands featured WKKF grantee Caribbean Craft, which employs and promotes artisans in Haiti. The company exports their vibrant papier mâché works to individuals and stores in the U.S., including Wolf & Badger.

With the most recent $1.9 trillion stimulus, Black, Latinx and Indigenous farmers will receive nearly $5 billion in relief. This comes after decades of systemic racism, biased government policy and business practices that have denied farmers of color access to capital. Black farmers alone have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century. The debt relief, training and education supported by the infusion of funding bolsters long-standing WKKF grantee work to expand opportunities for farmers of color.

The Detroit Promise Works To Boost College Enrollment Among Detroit Residents

March 23, 2021

CBS Detroit

The Detroit Promise is a last-dollar scholarship that provides eligible Detroit students the ability to earn an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or technical certificate, tuition-free, at participating academic institutions.

They have been working hard to make sure high school seniors are set up for success with scholarships, coaches and eligibility requirements.

In addition to current high school seniors, they encourage students from the class of 2020, who may have been deferred, dropped out, or didn’t start school, to apply for the Detroit Promise Scholarship, as they are still eligible to receive it.

The recent State of Education report by the Detroit Regional Chamber found that there was a 21.7 percent decline in college enrollment among last year’s high school graduates in Southeast Michigan.

Due to this drop in enrollment, and the circumstances due to the pandemic, The Detroit Promise is working with colleges and universities in Michigan to modify the eligibility requirements for admission.

Many of the four-year colleges partnered with Detroit Promise have made changes to their ACT/SAT requirements for the Class of 2021. These modified requirements include:

  • School allowing: “Test optional”– students can apply without a test score, but the institution might expect a higher GPA, an additional essay, an interview, etc.
  • School allowing: “If Admitted”– whether students apply with a test score is up to them. If admitted and meet the other requirements, you will be eligible for Detroit Promise funding.
  • School allowing: “Test Blind”– test blind meaning they are not weighing the exam in neither admissions nor Detroit Promise awarding decisions.

For a full list of the participating schools and their modified eligibility requirements visit: https://detroitpromise.com/do-i-qualify/

The Detroit Promise continues to make efforts to increase enrollment while focusing on the educational needs of the students, as the announcement of modified eligibility requirements is the first step in improving the decline in enrollment.

View original article here.

Report: Michigan’s mobility industry supported 1 in every 5 jobs in 2019

March 24, 2021

Detroit Free Press

By Adrienne Roberts

Nearly one in every five workers in Michigan was either directly or indirectly employed by the mobility industry in 2019, according to a report released Wednesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto group.

The report looked to quantify the economic contribution of the state’s mobility industry — which includes automotive, transportation and other related industries — for the first time before the pandemic hit and decimated those industries, particularly in the second half of 2020.

The mobility industry is recovering, but unevenly, with goods-producing industries, like vehicles, starting to rebound. At the same time, many service sectors, including passenger transportation, haven’t recovered, the report said.

But the chamber wanted to measure the industry’s contribution before the pandemic to compare it with future years as the economy recovers.

Mobility encompasses the automotive industry but also includes rail, drones and other industries that include the movement of goods and people.

“With the way that transportation and the Internet of Things are all intertwined, particularly in a shared-use economy with Uber and Lyft, it’s a bigger umbrella,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto program. “As transportation, electrification, connectivity, all these things come into more prominence, it’s a real economic opportunity.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • The mobility industry directly employed nearly 570,000 workers statewide, which supported an additional 526,000 indirect jobs, a total of almost 1.1 million jobs.
  • It directly and indirectly paid $71 billion in compensation (salary and benefits for payroll employees and the income of self-employed), for an average compensation of $65,000.
  • Directly and indirectly, it contributed $304 billion in gross economic output, 28% of Michigan’s gross economic output.
  • It directly and indirectly generated more than $9 billion in state and local taxes.

Within the mobility industry, the automotive industry was the largest contributing sector, directly and indirectly supporting nearly 684,000 jobs statewide, paying a total of $48 billion in compensation, and adding $230 billion to Michigan’s gross economic output.

“This sector of our economy is in everyone’s backyard,” said Stevens. “It pervades all the communities of Michigan and it’s across our entire state.”

He said it’s important that Michigan has an attractive business climate for this industry to grow. But he said that must coexist with the talent required for companies that are already here, or looking to move here.

“That is an evolving talent base, which is really going to depend on a lot of new skills,” he said. “They are digital skills, more and more.”

But first, the industry must recover after coming to nearly a complete stop during the pandemic. Trends that accelerated in the pandemic — such as working from home and the ability for companies to recruit for remote-only positions — could further impact the industry’s recovery. 

Employment in Michigan’s manufacturing industry is down nearly 8% in January compared with January 2020, according to the most recent data available from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Employment in trade, transportation and utilities is down 3%.

“One of the biggest issues right now is how we will work in the future,” Stevens said. “That had already been evolving, but the pandemic was a major inflection point for that.”

But he said the industry relies on communication and collaboration, which wouldn’t eliminate the office entirely.

“The industry itself has been evolving and will continue to evolve in the pandemic,” he said. “I think enabled it in a good way.”

View original article here.  

Bankole Thompson: Detroit should promise students more than money

March 24, 2021

The Detroit News

By Bankole Thompson

The writer James Baldwin once noted, “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

Baldwin may as well have been talking about Detroit’s chronic poverty crisis that has engulfed the future of many of the city’s young people. But because poverty is both physically and psychologically demanding on its victims, it is difficult — but not impossible — to break the cycle of inequality.

An indelible lesson for anyone trying to address the problem of poverty in the city is contained in a recent Detroit News report about the Detroit Promise Path program, which offers scholarships and coaches to select students and a monthly $50 stipend, yet few students enrolled in the program obtained a college education.

According to the report, “Only 7.2% of the students in the Promise Path earned certificates or a degree within three years, compared to 6.8% of those who received tuition alone. Fewer than 100 of the more than 1,000 students in the report’s study earned a degree or certificate within three years.”

Anyone reading the report might ask: Why throw money into the city for these results?

But the answer is more complicated than the usual helicopter approach of announcing big donations. It lies in the philanthropic community developing a framework to better understand poverty and the experiences of those dealing with it.

The report highlights the need for serious wraparound services to establish an unfailing structure to support the mental and emotional health of students who are coming from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, yet are expected to do extremely well in school. I don’t know what a $50 stipend would do for a college student in this era, especially one who is impoverished.

It’s almost cruel to expect a student in economic misery to get by with a $50 per month allowance while working toward a degree. The chances of such students succeeding are extremely low because they are busy fighting on multiple fronts against poverty — lack of health care, lack of transportation, food insecurity and lack of housing — outside the classroom. The problem is exacerbated further by an underserved Detroit Public Schools Community District which hasn’t been effectively preparing students for a college education.

Detroit’s foundation community can look to basketball great LeBron James as an example. He is using his social capital to transform lives. He not only built a public school in his hometown of Akron, but he proceeded to create strong wraparound services that included transitional housing for students who may be experiencing homelessness and other housing challenges.

There has to be a redefinition of the focus of some of the educational investments being made in Detroit. More emphasis needs to be placed on supporting the whole child as James has done. This requires an educated understanding of the challenges of poverty rather than writing a check.

Detroit needs a comprehensive education reform model that places the focus on battling the causes of poverty, not just the symptoms. Individual student development is inextricably linked to substantial community-based intervention support systems that can help break the barriers inequality place on academic achievement. Those seeking to fund meaningful and lasting educational experiments in the city will have to make holistic investments to give young people an opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty.

The pandemic has made this need more urgent. Many students from poverty-stricken backgrounds are being left behind as the virus continues to shed light on the deep-seated inequities in education that have been ignored for far too long.

View original article here.  

‘Without that support, I don’t know if I would have made it,’ student says of Detroit Promise Path

March 25, 2021

The Detroit News

By Karen Bouffard

As a child, Preston Welbourne El never imagined himself going to college, but meeting with a Detroit Promise Path coach sparked his interest in higher education.

Now a graduate of Oakland Community College who attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the 22-year-old was among eight panelists who discussed the Detroit Promise Path during a Detroit News webinar about the program Thursday night.

The event included a special guest appearance by Detroit rapper Gmac Cash, who performed a rap song about the importance of going to college.

A special report published last week by Detroit News Staff Writer Kim Kozlowski examined the successes and shortfalls of the program that provides free community college tuition, a coach and a stipend to help Detroit high school graduates get to the finish line.

“Without that support, I don’t know if I would have made it to this point,” said Welborne El, who traveled six hours on three different buses from his home in Detroit to Farmington Hills to attend college classes.

Kozlowski’s report, supported by the Education Writers Association,  coincided with the release of a study that found 829 students enrolled in the Detroit Promise Path in 2016 and 2017 did not earn significantly more degrees in three years when compared with 439 students receiving free tuition in the Detroit Promise. Detroit Promise began in 2013 and grants Detroit students a tuition scholarship for two-year community colleges. A promise program for students to attend four-year universities for free followed..

The randomized controlled study compared the progress of students who received the coaching and stipend provided by the Promise Path with that of students who received a scholarship alone.

The discussion was moderated by Detroit News columnist Bankole Thompson.

Colleen Sommo, principal investigator of the study conducted by New York-based education and social policy research group MDRC, said while the program did not move the needle on graduation, Detroit Promise Path students stayed at community college longer and completed more classes.

“Many more Detroit Promise Path students enrolled for five or six semesters compared with the scholarship alone group, and after six semesters, the Detroit Promise Path group was ahead by four college credits on average,” Sommo said.

“So there was significant impact in terms of progress, yet after three years we’re not seeing evidence of increases in degrees,” Sommo noted. “For some students the Promise might not have been enough to overcome some of the barriers.”

Panelist Mark Yancy, a Detroit Promise Path coach at Henry Ford College, said since about 80% of participants are the first in their families to attend college, many are fearful of college and have preconceived notions of expectations.

“Coaching sessions at the beginning of the semester, we try to pour water on those fears,” Yancy said.

Peter Remington, president and CEO of the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, which helps fund the Detroit Promise Path, said the program strives to remove obstacles, such as the lack of transportation to get to classes.

One time the answer was as simple as requesting that a bus stop be moved closer to the college, he said.

“We knew from Day One that our goal was to meet the students where they are, not where they wish they were,” Remington said. “You’ve got to set the expectations based on the realities.

“We knew this was a marathon and not a race,” he said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

View original article here.