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Project Profile:

Community Foundation College Access Challenge Grant Initiative

A project of the Council of Michigan Foundations

Project Timeline:

January 2011 to December 2017

Locations Impacted:

State of Michigan

Collaborating Organizations

The Kresge Foundation, Michigan College Access Network, and various Michigan community foundations

About the Project

The Kresge Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundations believe that community foundations are ideal candidates to support local college access programs because of their long-standing support of college scholarships, their leadership and commitment to local college access efforts, and their position as vital leaders in Michigan communities. Created in 2011 with a grant from The Kresge Foundation and administered by CMF, the Community Foundation College Access Challenge Grant initiative was geared toward increasing the college-going rate and culture in Michigan by providing endowed funds for college readiness programming, networking opportunities, and scholarships.

The first round of challenge grants ($500,000) supported 13 Michigan community foundations, leveraged $890,060 in local funding, and helped to establish almost $500,000 in permanently endowed funds at Michigan community foundations. These funds will provide support for  local college access activities and programs in perpetuity.

The Kresge Foundation granted $1.2 million in 2011 to support the second phase which awarded matching funds to community foundations that raised money and established endowments for Local College Access Networks (LCANs) activities. LCANs are a proven model of increasing college access and readiness; their long-term sustainability in communities is vital to increasing the number of people with a post-secondary degree (CMF, 2015).

Through this challenge grant program, community foundations received $1 in grant funding from The Kresge Foundation for every $1 given by donors in their local community. The vast majority of these funds came from new donors which helped to establish, support, and improve LCANs across Michigan.

The third phase of the Challenge Grant Program was designed with input from previous recipients. Funds further ensured the long-term sustainability of LCANs. This round was awarded $650,000 in 2015, for community foundations to request grants based on their ability to raise the match. Grants were made in a single-round and awarded for a two-year period (CMF, 2015).

The initiative worked in tandem with the Michigan College Access Network, whose mission is to dramatically increase college participation and completion rates, particularly among Michigan’s low income and/or first generation students.

Funds Raised/Distributed:

Key Accomplishments/Outcomes:


VideoVideo: Watch leaders discuss the Challenge Grant:



Council of Michigan Foundations. (2015, December 9). News. https://www.michiganfoundations.org/news/council-michigan-foundations-awarded-650000-statewide-community-foundation-challenge-grant

This profile was last updated: 06/26/2020