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Grant will support the launch of the nation’s first micro-scholarship student success initiative

LANSING, Mich. — A select group of first-year students at Wayne State University will receive additional support and incentives thanks to a $25,000 Innovative Program Grant over two years from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).   

The award helps launch the RaiseMe Student Success Pilot Program, aimed at promoting college persistence and retention for students who are at greatest risk of stopping or dropping out. More than 20 university staff among seven offices and divisions at Wayne State are involved in this pilot program, which is the first in the nation. This grant-funded initiative has two phases: Summer Melt and Fall Success.

In the Summer Melt portion, rolled out in June 2018, approximately 500 first-year students were invited to earn micro-scholarships for activities designed to increase their engagement and sense of belonging with pre- and early semester university programming. Student activities include FAFSA completion, attending orientation and pre-semester programming and enrolling in 15 credit hours for the fall.

The Fall Success portion, now live, engages 1,000 students in activities designed to promote academic success, provide financial assistance, and increase sense of belonging. Students earn incentives for meetings with faculty, tutoring, attending a study skills workshop, completing a financial literacy module, participating in extracurricular events and developing meaningful relationships.

“Wayne State University is committed to developing innovative ways to keep our current and future students engaged in their university experience and on track to degree completion,” said Provost Keith Whitfield. “Expanding our partnership with RaiseMe will allow us to connect with continuing students in new ways, while providing financial support that eases the cost of education.”

Wayne State University already utilizes the RaiseMe online platform to promote college readiness and to motivate and incentivize high school and community college students in their path to undergraduate enrollment. This pilot program extends the use of the platform to support student retention for currently enrolled undergraduate students. Wayne State has the fastest growing completion rate in the nation. Between 2011 and 2017, the university experienced an overall graduation rate increase of 21 percentage points, earning the 2018 Degree Completion Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“We are extremely pleased to continue our ongoing partnership with MCAN and to deepen our efforts in student retention and success through this new initiative with RaiseMe,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at WSU.

“With the success of this pilot program, we expect that this adaptation of the technology will become available nationally, creating a sweeping, positive uptick in college completion rates for students across the country,” said Kate Dyki, program management specialist at Wayne State University.

“This initiative aligns with our goal of ‘Sixty by 30’ and is laser-focused on retention, persistence and degree completion,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of MCAN. “We believe this is the leading edge of modern student retention efforts in American higher education and will become a national model because of its approach.”

RaiseMe is the inventor and sole source of micro-scholarships for first-time, first-year college students.  It partners with 300 colleges and universities and 25,000 high schools.

MCAN’s Innovative Program Grants are designed to fund programming that increases college readiness, enrollment and completion in local communities and across the state. Since these grants were introduced in 2016, MCAN has awarded more than $325,000 in 33 different Innovative Program Grants to organizations throughout the state.


As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41 percent in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45 percent as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2030. For more information, visit


Wayne State University is a premiere public, urban research university located in the heart of Detroit. Founded 1868, Wayne State pursues scholarship at the highest levels and serves a diverse body of more than 27,000 students through a broad array of nearly 400 academic programs. It is one of only seven public urban universities in the United States to have received the highest Carnegie Foundation rating for both research intensiveness and community engagement. Since its inception, faculty and staff have provided a high-quality educational experience for hundreds of thousands of students, who have gone on to make outstanding contributions as corporate CEOs, government leaders, judges, teachers, policy makers, university presidents, astronauts, scientists, physicians and more.