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In the spring of 2013 a cross-sector of organizations partnered to increase FAFSA completion rates in the city of Detroit. Anchored by Excellent Schools Detroit (ESD), this “College Ready” team included the Detroit Regional Chamber, Michigan College Access Network, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, The Skillman Foundation, Accounting Aid Society, and school leaders.


The College Ready team’s initial campaign proved successful, increasing FAFSA application rates from 54% to 73%. Additionally, 24 of 39 Detroit high schools exceeded a 70% FAFSA completion rate—more than double the 10 schools meeting that mark the previous year.


In collaboration with schools, community members, counselors, and other partners, the team:

  • Set a common FAFSA completion goal

  • Created a shared measurement system

  • Participated in reinforcing activities

  • Engaged in continuous communication about the campaign


The 2014-15 campaign reached 70% FAFSA completion as well as establishing a citywide college week with Decision Day events, college-going workshops, and college tours for Detroit students.


The momentum motivated the College Ready team to formalize a collaborative structure to increase college enrollment, persistence, and graduation rates among Detroit students. That same year, ESD received seed funding from Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Lumina Foundation to support the development of Detroit College Access Network as an official local college access entity.

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