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Kresge Foundation Challenge Grant will Help Support College & Career Readiness

<October 13, 2016> Should Oceana residents be concerned that only half of our high school graduating seniors enroll in trade schools, community and four-year colleges, and certificate programs; and only 30 percent actually obtain a degree or certificate?

The highly-respected Kresge Foundation — a private, national charitable foundation — thinks so, and it hopes more Oceana individuals, couples, families, organizations and businesses will step up to help our youth be better prepared for their futures.

And Kresge is putting its money where its heart is.

Kresge has notified the Community Foundation for Oceana County that it will match contributions to the Oceana CAN! (College Access Network) up to $25,000 between now and the end of the year. At this time, the Foundation has commitments of $16,750 towards the match, leaving only $8,250 left to meet the goal. The Foundation acts as the Oceana CAN’s fiscal agent and is part of its leadership team.

“This is an outstanding validation of Oceana CAN!’s early efforts to combat this problem in our community, and that we are succeeding,” said Alyssa Merten, Oceana CAN! Coordinator.  “We’re so proud to have caught Kresge’s attention because they channel monies to areas with the biggest need, and where Kresge feels it can really make a difference in people’s lives.  Kresge says it wants to influence ‘the life trajectories’ of vulnerable people.’  We do, too!”

Oceana CAN! helps ensure that all Oceana students have the resources and mindset to not only pursue – but also complete — higher education after high school.  Importantly, this isn’t just about four-year college degrees, but it’s also about certificate programs, trade schools, and community colleges.

“It’s about helping students find the training or education program that is right for them to successfully get a good job and become self-sufficient,” said Merten. This guidance to students becomes more critical since reports show that by the year 2018, 62% of jobs will require some form of training after high school.

Contributions to one of the Oceana CAN! funds will be used to support a number of activities to increase post-secondary access and success.  One is through participation in Michigan College Month, where every graduating Oceana senior is guided to submit at least one college application, apply for at least one scholarship, and file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Another is the annual Financial Information Night, this year to be held on October 24 at Hart Middle School at 7pm. During this evening senior students and their families will learn the multiple options to pay for college; including scholarships, grants, loans, work study, and about the FAFSA, which is often the first step to all other financial assistance.

At the 2nd annual county-wide College and Career Fair, to be held next on February 21, 2017, every Oceana junior can explore career options, and the education and training pathways to them. Last year, over 40 businesses and 23 colleges and workforce development agencies were on hand to talk with students.

An ongoing program is Students in the Workplace, a half-day job shadowing program for interested juniors.  More business partners are being sought for this important program.

More organized campus visits are also being offered to Oceana’s sophomores, juniors and seniors.  Too often, students will never set foot on a campus unless it’s part of an organized effort.

And Decision Day events, held each year in early May, recognizes the educational plans of seniors, and encourages younger student and families to prepare early for postsecondary education and training.

Donations to the Oceana CAN! Fund are tax deductible, and can be made by check or credit card online.