Posted by John Ester on Sep 11, 2018
Val Gerhart and Mary Ann Behms told us about the Local College Access Network that seeks to encourage youth to pursue post-secondary education. 
Mary Ann has been working with this program for five years in Manistee County. Val worked in this area in Midland and now is heading up the effort in Benzie County.
The basic premise is that college is for everyone, with the understanding that "college" includes all kinds of post-secondary education, not just four-year degrees. Such education is a public good that will led to higher employment, generate more tax revenues and reduce crime.
The Benzie County LCAN received a one-year planning grant from MCAN that will permit the creation of a network that will pull everything together and create local programs that will seek to lower present barriers to post-secondary education such as cultural attitudes, academic preparedness, navigating the process, college persistence and affordability. The planning grant will permit the creation of a leadership team that will develop an asset bank, community report cards, a common agenda and priority areas for action planning.
The opportunities for Benzie County include the Advise MI program under which recent college graduates through AmeriCorps become trained as near-peer counselors. According to Val, there will be plenty of opportunities for Sunrise Rotary to become involved in the various LCAN programs.