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DCAN/DPN – October 2019 Update

This past summer, Detroit College Access Network (DCAN), in partnership with Detroit Parent Network (DPN), opened the Postsecondary Academic and Career Endeavors (PACE) Detroit Center at DPN. The goal of the center is to connect parents and students to higher education, skilled trades, on-the-job training, and other opportunities that lead to a postsecondary degree and increased income.

DPN Parent Champions Presenting to Teach for America – 2019 New Teacher Orientation

DPN trained and hired parents from the community as Opportunity Navigators (ONs) to help reach families in their neighborhoods through Parent Cafes and other DPN outreach activities. Families from Parent Cafes and other internal programming visited the drop-in hub to receive support with continuing their education. Due to poor retention rates, ONs will receive more technical assistance and coaching along with increased wages starting Fall 2019. Accordingly, fewer Parent Cafes will take place than planned.

Overall, parent members, community partners, and the board of directors agreed that the PACE Detroit Center was innovative and indispensable. However, participation in PACE opportunities failed to meet expectations, and the program only fully came together in its last week. Despite this, skilled, accessible advisors and college representatives were able to give one-to-one sessions in a comfortable setting during the program. Through ups and downs, DPN and DCAN have worked together to assess challenges and create viable solutions, and outreach strategies have since been redesigned while keeping PACE doors open.

Recently, DPN received funding to increase the number of walk-ins and to support outreach. With the funds, DCAN hired two high school interns and a part-time outreach coordinator to help with outreach at larger community events. In addition to the outreach teams, DCAN also hired two trained, highly qualified counselors to work one-on-one with students and families to support them with the next steps in their college and career journeys.

After the PACE Detroit Center first opened in July with low turnout rates, it conducted mobile workshops with partner organizations, bringing the center to students and families directly. Instead of losing momentum after its original strategy did not work, PACE reached out to key stakeholders who already had large numbers of students for summer programs. This strategy was successful and will be put into effect next summer. Partner organizations can also host summer programming at the center, which will help increase traffic.

The project goal of engaging 250 students and families with knowledge, support, and completing the next steps for enrollment into postsecondary institutions was exceeded by 100 students and families who participated in 11 mobile workshops. Students and families explored the possibility of enrolling to complete their educational endeavors to work towards increasing their income through the program.

DPN also worked with Grow Detroit Young Talent students and staff to create a “CEO challenge”, bringing more ready-to-enroll young people and adults into the center in its final weeks. Six DPN parents and staff met with advisors to learn about debt forgiveness programs. With the focused support of Detroit Regional Chamber staff, they are now enrolled in local community and four-year colleges.

Hope Starts Here and DPN Parent Champions! Hope Starts with Families and Valuing Education!

DPN includes the PACE Detroit Center in a larger vision of building the Community Pathways to Opportunity program through 2019 to summer 2020. A new cohort of Opportunity Navigators begins training in October and will be deployed with DCAN and other partners to provide parent and youth peer-to-peer support. Shared learning and storytelling are essential for those in the community whose families did not attend college or career institutions. Young people and adults need pathways and people they can relate to who inspire and equip them to build their possibilities. Together with schools and institutions of higher learning, DPN looks to encourage families throughout Detroit communities to consider new and exciting possibilities through opportunities to further their education.