LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed an executive order establishing the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential, or MiLEAP. The new department will be tasked with improving outcomes from preschool through postsecondary so anyone can ‘make it in Michigan.’ MiLEAP will achieve this goal by establishing clear metrics, collaborating with cross-sector leaders at the local, regional, and state level, and developing a shared action plan.
“Every Michigander deserves a path to ‘make it in Michigan’ with strong, lifelong learning support,” said Governor Whitmer. “For too long, we have thought of education as K-12, but we know that’s not good enough. I’m establishing MiLEAP today because we need to get every kid started early, in pre-K, so they succeed in kindergarten, have paths after graduation to get higher education tuition-free, and forge strong partnerships with our employers so they can get a good-paying, high-skill, and in-demand job. MiLEAP will help our learning ecosystem take the jump to the next level as we grow our economy and build a brighter future for Michigan.”
As a department, MiLEAP will partner with the Michigan Department of Education and State Board of Education, complementing their long-term planning efforts. The new department will also work with the new Growing Michigan Together Council as they look at ways to strengthen preschool to postsecondary learning while growing the state’s economy and population.
For far too many Michiganders, opportunity is still connected to who you know, how much money is in your pocket, or where you live. This must change. MiLEAP will ensure all available resources, data, and funds are aligned around a single vision—building an education system that can support the economy of the future and help anyone make it in Michigan.
There are three broad goals:
- Add capacity in our early learning team, so every child is ready for kindergarten.
- Accelerate progress toward our Sixty by 30 goal, so everyone can earn a skill certificate or degree after high school, tuition-free.
- Prioritize community, regional, and state partnerships that help our students succeed.
MiLEAP will be led by a Director, appointed by the governor. The Director will join the governor’s Cabinet.
To focus on the three topline goals above, MiLEAP will be comprised of three offices:
- Office of Early Childhood Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that all young children meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten with the tools and ability to succeed in school. Oversee programs and policies statewide related to early learning and care, family engagement and education, pre-K, and child care.
2. Office of Higher Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that every Michigander has the skill certificate or degree they need to prosper, and help employers hire the talent they need to succeed. The Office will lead administration of state student financial aid to lower the cost of college and assist prospective students in making decisions about postsecondary education. Also work to increase college enrollment, graduation, and attainment rates.
3. Office of Education Partnerships: lead statewide efforts to build and sustain partnerships that enhance educational opportunities and outcomes throughout the state from preschool through postsecondary education. Broaden perspectives represented in decision-making, including by providing staffing and support to commissions appointed by the Governor. Expand access to programs that extend learning beyond the classroom (before school, after school, summer programming, employer-partnerships).
All three Offices will collaborate with other State of Michigan departments and entities, as needed, to achieve their goals.
What does MiLEAP mean for my kid?
When they’re 2…
MiLEAP will help families with young children get access to quality, affordable child care by coordinating resources for Michigan’s youngest learners. Then, the 2-year-old will enroll in free pre-K thanks to investments in the recent, bipartisan budget that takes steps to deliver pre-K for all kids at age 4. This will help ensure parents are confident their child will show up at kindergarten ready to thrive.
When they’re 12…
MiLEAP will ensure public school students in Michigan have the community-support they need to reach their full potential. For example, MiLEAP will allow 12-year-olds to have access to before and after school programming that is affordable and connected to their interests. Instead of leaving students with questions about the education they will need after high school, MiLEAP will help them learn about future career paths during their after-school program.
When they’re 22…
MiLEAP will create low or no-cost paths for students to earn an affordable education in an in-demand field. The department will help them get the support they need on campus to graduate on-time and pursue a fulfilling career right here in Michigan.
“I am excited to be the first to applaud Governor Whitmer for establishing this department,” said state Representative Samantha Steckloff, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education (D-Farmington Hills). “Pulling together our state’s dedicated continuing education resources into one centralized hub is good for our students, and good for our economies. Through MiLEAP, we will be able to better attract, educate, and retain the skilled workforce needed for Michigan to lead throughout this century and beyond.”
“We are thrilled by Gov. Whitmer’s MiLEAP announcement and her administration’s continued commitment to creating opportunities for every student, regardless of their ZIP code, age or income level,” said MEA President-elect Chandra Madafferi, a longtime teacher from Oakland County. “Education is a lifelong pursuit, and it’s important that we provide the scaffolding needed to assist students and parents every step along the way. MiLEAP will help create stronger pathways to success for students from preschool through higher education and help them realize their full potential.”
“This is a big opportunity for young children, their families, and the early care and education workforce, which is the backbone of Michigan’s economy,” said Dawne Bell, CEO, Michigan Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC). “We are so thankful for Governor Whitmer’s leadership in unifying and aligning these resources and services and for her commitment to ensuring Michigan families have access to equitable, high-quality, and affordable early care and education. At ECIC, we believe learning begins at birth. We look forward to collaborating with MiLEAP to further capacity and increase investments in the earliest years.”
“The new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP) will empower all of us to align the necessary partnerships, resources, and relationships to ensure every Michigan child has an amazing future. Together, with MiLEAP, we can give the same care and consideration to each decision we make as if it were to impact the future of our own children,” said Dr. John Severson, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Districts.
“Out-of-school time programs across Michigan provide critical educational opportunities for our state’s youth – this new department’s focus on unlocking our children’s potential will deliver more and better of these opportunities statewide,” said Erin Skene-Pratt, executive director of the Michigan Afterschool Partnership. “Before and after school programs and summer learning offerings are important for student success, so fitting this work together in Mi-LEAP with early childhood through post-secondary attainment is a smart, strategic step that will benefit Michigan’s youth.”