Advance Ypsi program launches at WCC, offering Ypsi-area residents training for high-demand careers

This winter semester at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) marks the launch of the Advance Ypsi program, which will place 300 Ypsi-area high schoolers and adults in short-term certificate programs that prepare them for high-demand careers paying at least $40,000 a year.

Dr. Stephanie Krah, WCC's executive director of college access and success, is ramping up community outreach efforts to make more Ypsi residents aware of the program. 

"For the past 20 years, WCC has been dedicated to furthering the work of our service to the community," Krah says. "We want to make an intentional impact and further greater connection outside of the spaces we already are in, and make sure our goals are aligned to the goals of the state as a whole."

Advance Ypsi falls in line with the state of Michigan’s Sixty by 30 initiative's goal for 60% of all working-age adults to have a skilled certificate or degree, as well as the goals behind the Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative through the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. Krah hopes Advance Ypsi will also lead community members to "reconnect with WCC," whether by continuing their education or partnering with the program. 

"While we have a targeted focus, we also have the opportunity to connect folks to WCC and show folks that they can accomplish their goals through us," Krah says. 

Through WCC’s collaboration with Ypsilanti Community High School, Krah and the Advance Ypsi team were able to determine what areas of college readiness to focus on with potential Advance Ypsi enrollees. WCC will support high school students' preparation for WCC’s required placement tests and educate students and families on scholarship opportunities. 

"We want to fuel students’ desire to go to college, but we also want to set them up for success," Krah says. "This semester, we’re launching some intentional academic prep support at Ypsilanti [Community] High School that will engage our faculty with teachers at the high school to help prepare students for college from a math and English perspective."

Krah also saw opportunities to connect WCC to local businesses in fields associated with Advance Ypsi certificate programs. She's planning field trips to their facilities for students to get hands-on experience with equipment and begin building relationships with potential employers. 

"We want these students to be able to see themselves in these careers," Krah says. "We haven’t tapped every place, but we’re trying to be as strategic as possible to connect with leaders of spaces and connect directly with individuals in the community."

Advance Ypsi Career and Life Success Coordinator Nannette Knox works closely with the program’s adult students, providing aid from the time students apply and are accepted to the time they finish their certificate program. She hopes to eliminate barriers to education, including financial challenges or students' uncertainty about what career path is right for them.

"It is a pleasure to support our students and promote mobility-focused certificate programs offered at WCC that lead to sustainable careers and a better quality of life," Knox says in an email. "I look forward to the growth of the Advance Ypsi program and all the contributions I can make to ensure its long-term success."

Advance Ypsi’s next winter session begins Feb. 29, and the summer session begins May 6. For information on how to register for classes, visit WCC’s admissions page. For more information on Advance Ypsi and its current programs or to register for a free virtual information session, visit Advance Ypsi’s website. For more on how the program came together, check out our previous story about it.

"This program is focused on Ypsi but has the ability to affect the county as a whole," Krah says. "We want to see how we can change generations."

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of WCC.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.