Applications now being accepted for $5 million grant fund designed to drive innovations in adult postsecondary education

Grand Rapids, MI (May 1, 2024) — The Michigan Center for Adult College Success announced today it is now accepting applications for grants to fund postsecondary innovations that help adult Michiganders access good-paying jobs and meet the state’s need for skilled talent.

The Innovation Investment Awards (IIA) will provide up to $1 million for postsecondary institutions that show they are ready to launch effective, lasting improvements to systems that support success for students 25 and older. The $5 million grant fund is administered by The Michigan Center of Adult College Success, an initiative of West Michigan CEO alliance TalentFirst.

The deadline to apply is July 15, with awards announced mid-August. The application form and a host of resources are available on The Center’s website. Resources include:

  • The scoring rubric that will be used to assess applications
  • Links to sign up for twice-weekly virtual office hours with staff
  • Contact information to reach out directly to staff with questions
  • A recording of a grant webinar and FAQs about the application
  • A link to student success grants administered by Michigan’s Office of Sixty by 30

While this is a competitive grant program, the goal is to support development of innovations that can benefit adult students and postsecondary institutions statewide, while delivering on Michigan’s “Sixty by 30” goal of increasing the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 50.5% today to 60% by 2030.

“With the Innovation Investment Awards, we’re taking a focused approach to addressing some of the challenges that adult learners face in completing their postsecondary journey,” said Jeremy Hendges, The Center’s executive director. “Our goal is to invest in concepts that yield success, and then share those across the state so they can be replicated at other colleges and universities. This is one of the many ways we serve as the state’s primary resource for increasing adult enrollment and completion of credentials.”

To help institutions prepare for the application, The Center has been partnering with Education Strategy Group, Sova Solutions, and CollegeAPP to work with colleges and universities from across the state in an innovation design sprint called the Michigan-Regional Adult Initiative for Skills and Education (MI-RAISE) Design Lab. These sessions have focused on region-specific data and new evidence-based approaches to best serve adult learners.

Learn more about the challenges of improving postsecondary completion of adults, and The Center’s approach to addressing those challenge, in the 2023 report, “Adult Postsecondary Education in Michigan & Beyond.

About The Michigan Center for Adult College Success

The Michigan Center for Adult College Success is the state’s primary resource to improve the enrollment and completion of postsecondary education by adults. As an initiative of TalentFirst, our goal is to meet the statewide need for a skilled workforce. The Center collects research, shares best practices, funds innovative pilots and provides technical assistance. We partner with a wide range of educators, business leaders and policy makers toward our shared goal of helping more adults get the credentials they need to reach their full potential, so our state can thrive. Learn more at

About TalentFirst

TalentFirst is a premiere alliance of West Michigan CEOs who are joined by HR leaders, educators, workforce leaders, and policymakers to collaborate on an unmatched scale for the benefit of all who live and work in the region. As a data-driven organization, TalentFirst provides practical, proven resources, strategies, tactics, advocacy and accountability to improve the recruitment, development and retention of talent in West Michigan. Learn more at