Group photo of high profile CEO partners and employees

A Letter From Kim Lijana, PhD, Director of CEO

Kim Lijana portrait

We know that in the United States of America and in the State of Michigan, access to high-quality educational experiences are inequitably distributed. Many of us, myself included, have experienced these inequities firsthand. President Schlissel has charged the university to both increase opportunities for students and to make sure that students feel like they belong on our campus. A student’s future should not be shaped by their zip code and students deserve a campus community where they are empowered to learn and thrive. The Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) is focused on advancing this important work in the pre-college environment with our K-12 students, families, and educators. We do this by: partnering with campus colleagues and supporting their efforts; and, providing tools and resources to accelerate the work, delivering state and nationally funded programs in underserved K-12 schools in Michigan 

CEO is actively engaged in national and statewide conversations to improve college access and success for students who have been historically underrepresented on our college campuses. As the public flagship institution in the state, the University of Michigan is committed to increasing opportunities for students. We do this through the Go Blue Guarantee, which provides free tuition for families with incomes $65K or under and through programs like Wolverine Pathways, which helps students in Ypsilanti, Southfield, and Detroit prepare academically and financially for an institution like U-M Ann Arbor. While these programs are well-known, there are countless more initiatives for the K-12 community offered by our talented U-M colleagues. CEO provides critical campus-wide coordination and collaboration opportunities to inform, engage, and inspire a diverse community of scholars. 

As the leaders and best, and one of the finest public research institutions in the world, the University of Michigan is in the business of learning, creating knowledge, and providing a wealth of expertise and educational resources to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Our university community is well positioned to address one of these very challenges; ensuring that Michigan students have the necessary preparation to pursue and successfully achieve their educational and career goals. We must channel the energy and expertise working on these issues across our campus to deepen our collective impact and ensure we are cultivating a diverse community of scholars who will be our next generation of leaders and best. Together, we will create sustainable systematic changes for a more meaningful educational future for our K-12 students and underserved populations in Michigan. Go Blue! 

History of CEO

Following the passage of Proposal 2, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman convened a Diversity Blueprints Taskforce to frame the University of Michigan’s response and share recommendations for how the university might move forward with efforts to attract and retain a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. Chief among those recommendations was the establishment of a center for educational outreach.

The Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) was established in 2009 with the charge of promoting and coordinating educational outreach and engagement activities, and strengthening partnerships between the university and K-12 school systems and communities in the State of Michigan.

Since its inception, CEO has informed, engaged, and inspired youth across the state to pursue postsecondary education, primarily by administering outreach and engagement programs to youth and families and building strong, mutually-beneficial relationships with K-12 schools and communities. Today, CEO utilizes its expertise to serve as the hub for the University of Michigan’s educational outreach.

In addition to offering its own educational outreach programs, CEO aims to expand the University of Michigan’s impact in educational outreach by strengthening collaboration and coordination between the U-M community and K-12 schools and communities and building capacity for U-M faculty, staff, and student groups to develop and implement their own outreach programs and initiatives.

Our Approach

Communicating with students about educational options after high school is a critical step to address issues of access and equity in post-secondary education. Navigating through the variety of options can seem overwhelming and the college application process can be daunting and complex. The process of obtaining financial aid is also a significant barrier to entry for many students and inhibits them from pursuing post-secondary options for which they are qualified. However, these factors should not be deterrents, and addressing this issue is one aspect of our work at the Center for Educational Outreach. Research has continually demonstrated that “informational interventions” significantly increase the likelihood of students pursuing post-secondary options by addressing the misconceptions that many students hold and by bridging the resource gap. Informing students about the options, resources and support available to them in their educational journey is a key component of our mission.

Developing a college-going culture among youth is essential for making post-secondary education more accessible. College aspiration does not happen overnight; this mindset and belief must be cultivated through meaningful and effective engagement. For many students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, information about college is provided only sporadically and without structure. Research has shown that having college plans by the tenth grade increases students’ likelihood of attending by 21%, compared to plans created during the twelfth grade. Providing students with opportunities to engage with ideas and explore academic disciplines and career paths is an important way to help students prepare for life after high school graduation; this can have a significant impact on their aspirations. At the Center for Educational Outreach, we seek to engage students, schools and communities in a variety of ways to promote access to and success in post-secondary education.

Enhancing the concept of college in the minds of K-12 students is crucial and seeing themselves at college is a key focus for the Center for Educational Outreach. Through the power of storytelling, students can see themselves within the stories of professionals and their educational journeys. Developing a sense of belonging is a powerful motivator. The Center strives to promote a college-going culture within our school and community partners as well as provide the resources and inspiration needed for students to know they belong in college and will succeed.