Students receive tools toward achieving goals after high school.

January 16, 2019

Oceana students gather handouts after a bilingual college information night.

Students receive tools toward achieving goals after high school.


HART – Oceana College Access Network (Oceana CAN!) is partnering with the Michigan Rural Council to provide students and families the encouragement, support, and resources necessary for them to make informed choices about post-secondary education.

The Michigan Rural Council awarded $800 to Oceana CAN! to develop and translate materials on financial readiness and college and career exploration, specifically for, but not limited to, special student populations including Hispanic and migrant, economically disadvantaged and first generation college students.

Oceana CAN! serves as a community convener to rally towards a common goal of increased post-secondary educational attainment. Oceana CAN! strives to ensure that each student has the resources and the mindset that they need to discover their unique path to education and training after high school. Economic prosperity, and subsequently a reduction in poverty, depends on building workforce talent through further education.

Oceana CAN! defines college as all post-secondary education that results in a high-quality credential, including certificate programs, trade schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities.

Oceana County is comprised of a student population which is 72 percent economically disadvantaged; 40 percent Hispanic with 22 percent from English learning homes; and 9 percent migrant families. Additionally, 40 percent of students would be first-generation college students.

Outreach to special populations is extremely difficult as these families can be transient, time constrained, language limited and in general, may not be able to attend informational events such as conferences and college information nights.

Translated informational packets will help explain the college process timeline, financial aid/paying for college, college application process, and career exploration opportunities. Oceana CAN! partners will utilize the handouts to have meaningful conversations on the importance, accessibility, and financing of college. Partners include local schools, libraries, case workers, and social advocates. Local businesses, who employ the parents Oceana CAN! is trying to reach, will also make the handouts available at worksites.

“It is critical to tailor communications to impact community culture and aspirations, and to create one that is college-positive and career-ready,” said Oceana CAN! Coordinator, Alyssa Merten. Dashboard metrics are tracked to measure success. Goals include, but are not limited to, more student participation in college and career exploration opportunities, increased college readiness, and growth in the number of students enrolling, persisting, and completing certificates and degrees.

The Michigan Rural Council is a partner of the Rural Partners of Michigan (RPM) and serves as the administrative entity for the program. RPM offers its Community Grant Award program each year. This program offers grants of up to $800 to organizations engaged in rural community development work. RPM, as part of the Michigan Rural Council, seeks to connect and educate community leaders, provide expertise and advocate for policy and projects that impact rural Michigan.

The Community Foundation for Oceana County serves as the fiscal partner for the network and is committed to promoting the importance of this initiative. For more information refer to the OCAN website at or call Alyssa Merten, at (231) 301-8210.

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