Community Connections: Developing our talent through education


Since 1973, the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF) has operated under the simple premise that when a lot of people pool their resources to work toward a common goal, great things are possible.

This approach has led to such Midland treasures as the Santa House, the skate park, and the Tridge (with the support of our family and corporate foundation friends).

A less visible way the MACF has impacted Midland, however, is addressing the issues of talent development and economic equity. In order for Midland to be an outstanding community for all, meaningful employment at a wage that affords a quality lifestyle for everyone is a must. Education has always been a hallmark of the work of the community foundation, as we look toward building a community where everyone can thrive.

For the past five years, the MACF has funded the Career and College Access Network (CCAN), which is designed to increase the number of Midland County residents with post-secondary education.

The CCAN is made up of educational, non-profit, business and municipal leaders who are actively working to increase access, enrollment and completion of education beyond high school for students of all ages.

First off, a quick vocabulary lesson. Post-secondary education is any education after a student receives his or her high school diploma. Post-secondary education can take the form of a two-year or four-year college or university, a technical or trades school, a licensure program, an apprenticeship program, or a myriad of other options. Students pursuing post-secondary education can be high school seniors or any other person of any age who has completed high school sometime in the past. We believe all people are capable of and should pursue post-secondary education, and that all of the post-secondary options available are equally valid career options. We want everyone to find a career that inspires a sense of passion. Period.

In its simplest terms, the CCAN seeks to discover, and then solve, the barriers that individuals face to pursuing post-secondary education. The CCAN arranges campus visit days for ninth and tenth graders to help de-mystify what “going to college” is like. We organize trips to career fairs and plan hands-on career activity days for over 600 students county-wide. When we learned that over 10% of students faced a potential barrier to completing orientation at Delta College, we started a program that transported students from Midland County to Delta College for a special orientation session, complete with a free lunch. We are currently working on a co-op program for students interested in skilled trades. This program would allow students to earn high school credit while working in a skilled trade position during part of the school day. For non-traditional students, we are collaborating with the Greater Michigan Construction Academy to provide free introductory classes for those who wish to pursue a career in the construction fields. These programs and others like them lead to more students pursuing more education and developing more skills toward gaining more meaningful careers and a higher quality of life.

A common concern of pursuing post-secondary education, however, is paying for it. The most visible way the Midland Area Community Foundation helps students pursuing post-secondary education is through our scholarship program. Last year, we offered 332 scholarships valued at over $800,000. The best part, though, is there are scholarships for everyone. Some are based on financial need, some are for non-traditional or adult students, some are for current college students, and some are for high school seniors. The application process will automatically match your information with the scholarships for which you are eligible. Your job is simply to complete the application.

To apply for our scholarships, visit, click on “Apply for a Scholarship”, click on “Apply Now” and follow the directions. The application window opened Dec. 1 and closes March 1, so now is the perfect time to begin an application. All applications do require two letters of recommendation and a high school transcript, as well as transcripts from any colleges attended. If you have any questions throughout the process, please call us at 989-839-9661. We’re here to help!

The Community Foundation scholarships and CCAN programs would not be possible without the efforts of many people, as well as the contributions of a caring community. We are proud to be working on behalf of many people toward the goal of helping students of all ages to access, pay for and complete the education they need to share their passion with the world.

This piece was written by the Midland Area Community Foundation’s Scholarship Coordinator Heather Crowl and College Access Network Coordinator Doug Wright, as part of the Daily News’ Community Connections Initiative.


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