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North Central Michigan College has joined a statewide initiative to help students connect with resources to support basic needs. The Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) was awarded a $442,000 grant to launch the initiative, which is focused on improving student completion and success by addressing several economic instability factors, including access to food, housing, transportation, childcare and other basic needs. 

The Michigan – Building Economic Stability Today (MI-BEST) effort is funded by a grant from the ECMC Foundation as part of its Basic Needs Initiative, designed to address and alleviate basic needs insecurity among students.

The initiative launches in January 2020 and will continue through June 2022.  North Central’s team of college personnel and community leaders is comprised of the following individuals:

  • Renee DeYoung, vice president of Student Affairs
  • Kim Dickinson, advisor
  • Thomas Knott, accounting faculty
  • Robert Marsh, Ph.D., associate dean of Research and Assessment
  • Pete Olson, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs and Student Success
  • Virginia Panoff, director, Financial Aid
  • Chelsea Platte, executive director, NCMC Foundation
  • Jennifer Wixson, early childhood education faculty
  • Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation representative 

National survey findings report that 45 percent of respondents have experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days, 56 percent have experienced housing insecurity in the previous year, and 17 percent have been homeless during that year.

“We know that the lack of access to basic needs is frequently the reason that students leave college,” said Erica Lee Orians, executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success at MCCA. “North Central’s participation in this initiative is a critical component of our student success efforts.”

The Michigan Center for Student Success is leading the initiative for the MCCA and will partner with nationally-recognized organizations including the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement and Trellis Research, along with Michigan-based organizations including the Michigan Association of United Ways, MiBridges, and Public Policy Associates to support Michigan’s participating community colleges. 

“We have focused on a number of initiatives to improve student completion at North Central, and MI-BEST is another opportunity for the college to eliminate barriers to student success,” said Renee DeYoung, vice president of Student Affairs.  “We are grateful for the partnership from the ECMC Foundation and the Michigan Community College Association, and for their visionary leadership to address economic instability to improve student success.”

The initiative was created in response to research from the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice (Hope Center), California State University, MDRC and the National Bureau of Economic Research, showing that basic needs insecurity is prevalent among students at two- and four-year campuses and impacts students’ persistence and graduation outcomes.

The Michigan Center for Student Success, founded in 2011, serves as a hub connecting leadership, administrators, faculty and staff in their emerging and ongoing efforts to improve student outcomes, emphasizing linkages between practice, research and policy. The Center has led statewide initiatives focused on reengaging adults, developmental education, transfer, veterans and advising.  The Center is part of the 16-state Student Success Center Network working with more than half of the community colleges across the nation.

North Central Michigan College is an open-door community college based in Petoskey, with additional locations offering classes and services in Cheboygan and Gaylord. North Central’s mission is to provide educational, economic and cultural opportunities for student learning, personal growth and community improvement.  North Central is an Achieving the Dream Leader College with a designation of Veteran Friendly Gold by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.


For more information:
Megan Van Horn
Content Media Administrator