State Reps. Sarah Anthony and Ben Frederick are spearheading an effort to expand and enhance the Michigan Reconnect program.
The Legislature last week gave final approval to a bipartisan plan spearheaded by state Rep. Ben Frederick to offer additional grant opportunities for adults interesting in pursuing associate degrees and certifications through the Michigan Reconnect program. The legislation now heads to Governor Whitmer for consideration.
Frederick previously led the effort to create the Michigan Reconnect program in 2019 alongside Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). It provides scholarships to adult learners who return to school to earn their first associate degree or skilled trades certification.
“The Michigan Reconnect program is making a difference. It’s helping tens of thousands of adults return to the classroom and continue their education so they can take that next step in their careers,” Frederick said. “These measures will build on the program’s success, make improvements that allow us to better meet the unique needs of adult learners.”
The bills would enhance the program by ensuring community colleges make the best use of participants’ prior life experience when granting credit and acceleration opportunities.
Under the plan, colleges with Michigan Reconnect students must adopt nationally recognized best practices for the adult learner population, including by offering competency-based courses and programs, awarding credit for prior learning, providing work-based learning opportunities, making broad-scale student support services available, and offering stackable industry-recognized micro credentials within programs.
Community colleges would also be incentivized to accept and award credit for college-level credit examinations, such as the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DSST Credit-by-Exam Program, allowing students to pursue maximum acceleration options through their programs.
The Reconnect short-term training grants created under this plan would also allow adult learners new opportunities to participate in high quality career training programs. These programs, ranging in length from eight to 15 weeks, would allow people to attain industry-recognized credentials that are stackable, portable, and shown to increase earnings by no less than 20 percent after completion.
Frederick, himself, was an adult learner and first-generation college graduate.
“My experience gave me a unique understanding of the barriers adult learners face,” Frederick said. “The improvements we’re making will do more to ensure people’s prior life experiences are acknowledged by institutions of higher education. The goal is to help people obtain an employment-relevant credential that helps them advance their careers with minimal or no debt.”
An effort led by state Rep. Ben Frederick to offer additional learning resources for Michigan children who are deaf or hard of hearing will soon advance to the governor for consideration after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
“Both of these measures were brought forward in a bipartisan manner with a focus on offering more opportunities in the learning environment…