Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced Tuesday the creation of a Web site that will put college information and resources at the fingertips of Michigan's highschool students.
The Michigan College Access Network will launch in fall 2010. It will let students research many aspects of the state's colleges, such as scholarships, application requirements, financial aid options and virtual campus tours, said Brenda Hunt, chairwoman of the community foundation task force for the College Access Network. She also is president of the Battle Creek Community Foundation.
Granholm announced the new Web site at the 14th annual Governor's Education Summit in Lansing, which drew educators and community leaders from across the state.
"We've got to continually improve and continually progress," she said in her keynote address. "This has been a week of great challenges for Michigan in the auto industry, a really defining moment for Michigan. Let's redefine ourselves."
State and community partners received $2 million in federal funds to develop the College Access Network, which they are modeling after a similar Web site in North Carolina, Hunt said. The state will apply for another $2 million in August and must produce a 50 percent match, either in funds or in-kind donations of time and services.
Along with the Web site, the College Access Network may offer a telephone help line for students seeking college application guidance, as well as local offices where students can go for help, Hunt said. Those offices could keep in touch with students throughout their college careers and later help them find jobs in the state.
"It's really hard to focus when you always feel like you're on the defensive. We all have to play offense," Granholm said. "Our economy is going to be challenged for yet another couple of years. The unemployment rate is the last thing to feel the uplift of an economic rebound. Things are going to get worse before they get better."
Although Michigan has lost 700,000 jobs since 2000, more than 61,000 Michigan citizens have participated in the state's No Worker Left Behind retraining program, she said.
"We have a phenomenal state," Granholm said. "Crisis does present an opportunity. In the end, we really are going to be all right."
Nanette Reynolds, cofounder and president of minority scholarship provider The Imagine Fund in East Lansing, said she's glad the governor didn't focus solely on the negative.
"I appreciate that she has hope," Reynolds said. "With so many economic disappointments going on in the state, it's important to nonetheless have hope."