Michigan Community Colleges Get $30 Million to Bridge Equity Gaps

The investment is part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative.
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Published on April 26, 2023
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  • A collaborative of seven southeastern Michigan community colleges announced a $30 million investment from the Ballmer Group and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. foundation.
  • That funding will be used to boost job opportunities and cut back on racial equity gaps.
  • The initial investment will span over three years, according to a release.
  • Washtenaw Community College in Ypsilanti announced plans for a training program using its share of the funding.

A new $30 million investment will help community colleges in southeast Michigan cut back on racial equity gaps, the Detroit Regional Chamber announced Monday.

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative (D3C3), an equity-focused initiative that includes seven community colleges in southeast Michigan, announced a $30 million investment from the Ballmer Group and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

The community college collaboration focuses on cutting back on racial equity gaps by connecting students with high-demand credentials and degrees. It also aims to make college more accessible through dual enrollment and employer partnerships.

The initial investment from the Ballmer Group and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will be spread across three years, although foundation President and CEO David Egner said in the announcement that the funding should be seen as a “pilot to augment the work already underway in community colleges.”

The funding is spread across various programs at the seven D3C3 community colleges. Washtenaw Community College (WCC) in Ypsilanti, for example, plans to use its $2 million grant for education and career development for historically underrepresented students in the city.

That training program, Advance Ypsi, could result in more than $12 million in eventual aggregate annual earnings for residents of the community. Roughly half of the households in the community live below the poverty level, according to Washtenaw Community College.

The Advance Ypsi program will launch in fall of 2023, according to the release.

“WCC has long been a community partner to build bridges for students in their education and pursuit of jobs and careers that will help them prosper not only today but for a lifetime,” WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca said in the release. “This is a historic initiative that has the potential to transform the regional talent pipeline in southeast Michigan and support the goal of college completion.”