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KnowHow2Go makes great strides

Posted on June 17, 2016

The Community Foundation’s college access efforts began ramping up back in 2007.  A group of partners and donors came together to create KnowHow2Go, our local college access network (LCAN).  Today, KnowHow2Go operates through the St. Clair County RESA and has progressed to becoming one of the most developed LCAN’s in the state of Michigan. The network includes all county public K-12 school districts, St. Clair County Community College, Baker College-Port Huron, the Community Foundation, RESA, Oakland University and other community agencies including the YMCA and SONS.

Since 2008, our KnowHow2Go has seen over 41,000 attendees at its events and includes college advisers at six of our nine public high schools. These college advisers work directly with students helping them to explore career fields and overcome any barriers preventing them from post secondary educational opportunities.  A college-going culture has really taken over our high schools and our communities, proven through the 25% increase in Port Huron High School students who enrolled in college in 2013 (71%) compared to in the fall of 2008 (46%).

This year, we need your help to receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Kresge Foundation to support this crucial part of our education funding – college access. Make a donation into the College Access Fund today and it will be matched dollar for dollar! Donate today.

Meg LaLonde has been the college adviser at Capac High School over the past two years.  She recently shared this story with us:

As college advisers we are told that we are creating ripples – we may not see the fruit of our labor today, or tomorrow, but the long-lasting impact is there, rippling its way through families and generations. Yet once in a while we are given a gift and are able to see success in a big way. I was fortunate to see that this year through a former student of mine, Zach Farrow.

Zach is a poster child for why St. Clair County needs college advisers in our high schools. He graduated in 2015 with a 2.5 GPA. He is a first-generation college-going student from a low-income, single parent home. Although Zach didn’t have a lot of support from home with regard to attending college, he met with me throughout his senior year to figure out a way to go. We worked hard to get him into Eastern Michigan University where he was awarded a scholarship that, paired with his PELL Grant, covered his entire tuition. He began last August.

I met up with Zach this May and he filled me in on his first year at Eastern Michigan University. Zach is EXCELLING! He earned a 3.5 GPA in his first year. His impressive academic performance garnered him an invitation to apply for the Honors College, into which he was recently accepted. It also meant an increase in his scholarship amount. Zach made fast friends with his freshman year roommate. They will be moving off campus this year into a quiet apartment building owned by a church. The cost savings of moving off campus, paired with his increased scholarship, means Zach will not have to take out any student loans for this upcoming school year. While he needed the maximum $5500 in federal loans last year, he is not bitter about his debt – understanding that it is a resource, not a burden – and already has a plan to pay half of his loans off this summer. Beyond finances, Zach has made a life for himself at EMU – calling it his “home away from home.” He landed a job working in the cafeteria and will be a supervisor next year. He and his roommate will be running the Eastern wrestling club. He changed his major from criminal justice to exercise science, and hopes to pursue a career in cardiac rehabilitation or prosthetics someday.

Zach also told me that going away to college has completely changed his perspective. Coming from a small town and a tough home life, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to succeed. But now he has such amazing confidence and determination, I know that he will be successful not only at Eastern, but in life. And while I in no way take all the credit for Zach’s success, I know that without a dedicated resource available to him during his senior year, his story could be much different. College advisers are a crucial element of creating a college-going culture in St. Clair County – just ask Zach!


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