Receiving the inaugural MCAN Harbor Award is a validation of DRDFS’ mission—and an inspiring opportunity to connect with groups that share similar goals and ideals

The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is a leading organization in Michigan’s college access movement. The organization has done great work to improve the futures of Michigan’s students and communities by making college more accessible. Their work is not just consistent with the DRDFS mission, it also represents an inspirational example of what the broader community can accomplish collectively in support of the young people who will make an enduring positive impact on Michigan’s future.

Last month, DRDFS was honored to receive MCAN’s first-ever Harbor Award, presented to an organization that has significantly contributed to the college access field through direct service in its community. The award was presented at the College Access Impact Awards, MCAN’s annual event honoring “the individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary efforts to improve postsecondary attainment in Michigan, especially among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color.”

“DRDFS shares our vision of providing equitable opportunities for students to earn a post-secondary credential, reach their career goals, and strengthen their communities,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “We are proud to honor DRDFS’ work with the inaugural Harbor Award.”

The College Access Impact Awards program has recognized more than 100 people and organizations since the awards began in 2015. DRDFS was one of 13 individuals and organizations honored at the 2023 event, which was held in Mount Pleasant. To be recognized alongside so many individuals and organizations doing such extraordinary and admirable work was a memorable and rewarding experience.

After more than 30 years of serving Southeast Michigan students, this is a noteworthy moment for DRDFS: an important step for a grassroots organization that continues to grow and make an increasingly significant impact. The MCAN Harbor Award is also a distinct honor specifically because of the award’s focus on and recognition of community impact.

DRDFS is part of a larger community that extends across Southeast Michigan. There are so many hardworking and inspiring people who support the organization. From high school advisors and principals to the DRDFS alumni who come back to talk to students, DRDFS truly does rely on the hard work, involvement, and support of so many. DRDFS was founded to address a need in the community, and community and connectivity remain at the core of that mission and at the heart of the DRDFS organizational identity.

“We feel so fortunate to be a part of this important time in our students’ lives,” said Christa Funk, DRDFS executive director. “Students across our state, in every community, need all of us to keep being that harbor: a place to belong and a place where every student can thrive as they pursue post-secondary attainment. We look forward to continuing our work to help them make their goals a reality.”



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