Saturday, February 09, 2019

John Burkhardt and National Forum awarded grant by MCAN for efforts to improve college access for undocumented students


John Burkhardt and the National Forum received a grant titled “Enhancing College Access Resources for Undocumented Students,” funded by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

The National Forum is compiling results of a comprehensive study of the practical, procedural, and policy-related difficulties faced by undocumented and DACAmented students seeking to enroll in Michigan colleges and universities. Funded by the Kresge Foundation in 2017, the broad goal of this effort is reflected in the title given by the foundation, “Building Institutional Support for Undocumented Students in Michigan Public Colleges and Universities.”

The project focuses on higher education institutional support, which is critical. Yet, the information in hand would be of greatest use to students, families, and communities. Communicating information and opportunity to those desperately seeking it—and in a way that genuinely responds to their needs as they define them—is the activity at the heart of this project.

The National Forum will continue to foster its relationship with the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) through the creation of college access resources for undocumented students. In particular, one of MCAN’s values—“college is for everyone”—underscores the necessity of this work. College should be for everyone, regardless of documentation or citizenship status. The innovative program grant from MCAN will allow the National Forum to elevate and disseminate the research findings to undocumented students and their families statewide, as well as those working on the front lines of college access: high school college guidance counselors, admissions and financial aid representatives.

With support and assistance from MCAN, the National Forum will build upon the alliance with Washtenaw Futures College Access Network to include additional Local College Access Networks. These partnerships will enable the collaborators to learn from Michigan’s undocumented students themselves, as well as the educators who support them. The program includes preliminary listening exercises: how can we know what students, families, and practitioners need without asking them? This is a frequently ignored—yet essential—component of providing beneficial tools to students and educators. The team believes that placing better information in the hands of students will encourage and empower them to seek college admission upon finishing high school. Additionally, even as they aim to empower prospective undocumented students who aspire to college, they will provide opportunities, employment, and a path to service for current students at the University of Michigan who may be personally undocumented and are passionate about undocumented college access.

John Burkhardt is Professor of Clinical Practice,Center for the Study and Higher Education; Founding Director, National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good

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