In spring of 2013, a group of Detroit college-access stakeholders launched and implemented a FAFSA completion campaign with the goal of increasing citywide FAFSA application rates to 70% from the 54% baseline. Partners included the Detroit Regional Chamber, Michigan College Access Network, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Skillman Foundation and Excellent Schools Detroit.
Working with schools, community members, and other partners, this group set a common FAFSA completion goal, created a shared measurement system, participated in reinforcing activities and engaged in continuous communication to successfully implement the campaign. The campaign also included informational events about the importance of FAFSA and training events that provided cohesive instructions on how to help students and families complete the form. One such informational event was attended by 37 counselors, community partners and college advisors representing 24 organizations to discuss the importance of the FAFSA and financial aid.
At the end of the campaign we exceeded the FAFSA completion goal, reaching 73% of graduating seniors, and as a result about 500 more seniors had access to financial aid and resources about navigating the college-going process than during the prior year. Additionally, 24 Detroit high schools exceeded a 70% FAFSA completion rate – more than double the ten schools that met that mark in the previous year. In 2014, the partners launched another FAFSA completion campaign and a citywide college week that includes decision day events, college-going workshops and college tours for students throughout Detroit.
In addition, during 2014, ESD received seed funding from both the Michigan Council of Foundations and Michigan College Access Network to develop the backbone infrastructure in order to formalize and continue the collective impact approach. Through this funding and the success of the FAFSA campaign, DCAN was formed. DCAN is now located at the Detroit Regional Chamber.