MI-RAISE Design Lab

MI-RAISE Design Lab

The Michigan Center for Adult College Success is partnering with Education Strategy Group to launch a new opportunity for post-secondary institutions seeking to design innovative solutions to address systems change and challenges faced by the adult learner population. The Michigan-Regional Adult Initiative for Skills and Education (MI-RAISE) Design Lab will engage a cohort of postsecondary institutions in a design sprint to assess their local economies, markets for adult learners, and capacity to educate adult learners. The goal of this program is ultimately to use those data to design new evidence-based approaches to best serve adult learners. Post-secondary institutions with ideas for innovative solutions and/or an interest in identifying solutions to support adult learners in the state of Michigan are invited to participate.

As the state of Michigan looks to close equity gaps and achieve its broader Sixty by 30 attainment goal, the state is poised to make significant investments in educating, reskilling, and upskilling adult learners. These investments include MCACS’ Innovation Investment Award grants and the student success grants administered by the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential Office of Sixty by 30. To prepare post-secondary institutions to strategically utilize these grants and other potential funding opportunities, MCACS is partnering with Education Strategy Group to facilitate the MI-RAISE Design Lab. This design lab will assemble a cohort of institutions seeking to design and develop innovative solutions to increase academic persistence and degree completion among adult learners in Michigan. The adult learner population is defined as students over the age of 25. This cohort will support MCACS’ goal of meeting the need for a skilled workforce in the state by increasing the number of adults obtaining postsecondary credentials. These credentials open the door to higher-paying jobs, allowing more Michiganders to build better lives for themselves and their families.

MI-RAISE Resources

Materials from the convenings and recordings of the virtual convening are available on our Meeting Materials page.

Meeting Materials


Public and tribal community colleges and public universities are eligible. Independent colleges and universities can participate if they are part of a joint application with one of the aforementioned institutions as the lead applicant. 

An institution can only submit one application for their institution, Multiple applications are allowed only if the institution is part of a joint application. 

No. All information should be included in a single application. 

For the application process, adult learners can apply to any individual who graduated from high school, but didn’t enroll in a postsecondary institution within a year of graduation or adult learners who left a postsecondary institution before obtaining a postsecondary credential. For the purposes of data utilized in the MI-RAISE Design Lab and the Innovation Investment Awards, The Center will also use a more common definition of any adult who is 25 years of age or older that will allow for outcomes that can be evaluated against national and state standards. 

International students can be considered part of the adult learner population, but the proposal should also look at domestic adult learners as well. If the proposal is focused solely on international students, feel free to reach out to the Center and we can work with you on potential groups to support international student focused efforts. The proposal should look at the adult learner population broadly. 

Neither as long as the proposal is focused on adult learner completion. For the MI-RAISE Design Lab process, we are planning to accept every eligible institution that applies who is focused on boosting adult learner persistence and completion. Collaborations across institutions are encouraged. 

Participants will receive labor market information data on workforce demand in the institutions area. Through the MI-RAISE Design Lab we will be working with institutions who need to build out their workforce connections with options and ideas to build those relationships. 

Self-assessment will only be provided to the institution. The MI-RAISE Design Lab team will be reviewing the self-assessment and lifting up themes discovered for sharing and discussion, but these themes will not be attributed to specific institutions. 

Yes, those proposals are eligible. We strongly recommend proposals infuse non-credit, micro credentials, and digital badges into a credit-bearing bearing plan. As part of the MI-RAISE Design Lab we can work with institutions on a proposal on how to incorporate these short-term items into a credit-bearing path. 

Institutions participating in the MI-RAISE Design Lab will receive free access to experts and consultants to help them develop system change proposals that will boost adult enrollment and completion. This assistance will help position the institution to identify the specific system changes to be undertaken, identify resources needed to accomplish the system changes, and position the institution to seek any internal and external resources needed to enact the system changes. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to learn from each other and potentially collaborate on their efforts. Lastly, institutions will receive adult learner data and labor market information in their geographic areas. 

No, however, institutions will have to demonstrate they have undertaken a design process to develop the system change that funding is being sought to implement. Aside from the MI-RAISE Design Lab, work that is being done with D3C3 or the work being done by Diploma Equity Project on human-centered design improvements are examples of approved planning processes. If you have any questions on this issue, please feel free to contact the team at the Center. 

For the Innovation Investment Awards institutions will need to obligate dollars by Sept. 15, 2024, but will have until Sept. 15, 2026 to spend those dollars. Those limitations are due to the source of the funding of the awards being a federal SLFRF grant that the state is administering. Awards can be up to $1 million per award. The $1 million cap applies to individual and collaborative projects. The Center will fund as many awards as possible with the roughly $5 million available for the awards. 

The RFP will be available in the spring 2024. 

Community college and university leadership will get the benefit of additional resources to develop proposals that will increase their completion rates for adults at no cost to the institution. The proposals will prepare the institution to successfully apply for the millions of dollars in grants available to increase student success efforts available. Additionally, the planning work will identify ways to successfully implement the proposals that will lead to increased completion rates, thereby increasing the marketability of the institution and increased revenues due to lowering the drop rates. 

The program will provide consultants and technical experts to work with institution staff to develop system change grant proposals, adding capacity to their already taxed schedules and time. By participating in this process the staff who are responsible for developing proposals and submitting grant requests will receive significant supports that will ease their time burden in developing successful proposals and experts that will help them develop strong proposals for consideration and future funding support. 

The Center gets to pilot a model of technical assistance that can be utilized to fulfill its statutory requirements on consulting with Reconnect institutions on best practices. It provides an opportunity for The Center to build meaningful relationships with postsecondary institutions across the state. It will also inform The Center on the specific best practices of interest to Michigan’s public colleges and universities. Lastly, it will provide a meaningful pool of applicants for the Innovation Investment Awards. 

The MI-RAISE Design Lab will result in multiple community college and university proposals for system changes based on best practices and prepare the institutions or coalition of institutions to apply for funding to acquire the resources needed to execute the proposal. The MI-RAISE Design Lab will allow for increased communication and coordination between postsecondary institutions and develop a road map for success in boosting adult completion rates at their institutions. 

Upcoming MI-RAISE Events