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Finlandia Welcomes Mentor Michigan AmeriCorps Member Kevin Korte

Kevin KorteHANCOCK, MI - AmeriCorps member Kevin Korte is working with Finlandia University and a number of local, regional, state, and federal agencies to accelerate a college-positive culture in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan counties of Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon.

To help accomplish this, Korte is recruiting and training Finlandia University and Michigan Tech students, as well as BHK AmeriCorps members and volunteer-mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Western U.P., as College Positive Volunteers, or "Navigators."

"The Navigators are college students and other community volunteers who believe the completion of post-secondary education is an attainable goal for area students," Korte says, stressing that post-secondary opportunities include four-year colleges and universities, two-year community and junior colleges, vocational, technical, and business schools, and military service opportunities.

He explains that the Navigators will have an on-site presence at participating high schools, serving as role models, mentors, and sources of information and resources for college-readiness tasks, such as preparing academically for college, finding a college, applying for financial aid, and completing other related materials.

"There is a strong disconnect in our tri-county area between students intending to pursue a postsecondary education and students who actually obtain a postsecondary education," notes TyAnn Lindell, EVP for academic and student affairs at Finlandia University. "Kevin and the College Positive Volunteers will be working this academic year to help close this gap."

"Kevin is the area's first-ever Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps AmeriCorps service member," Lindell adds. "He is building relationships and putting into place the tools and resources to make it less threatening for high school students to continue to college or pursue other post-secondary educational opportunities."

Korte is busy arranging several two-hour volunteer training meetings which will start in late October of this year and continue throughout the 2011-12 academic year.

"My goal is to actively recruit and train College Positive Volunteers all year," Korte says. "I'll be making contacts with area high schools and arranging for the volunteers to be at various high school events."

There's lots of free stuff for high school students, too. The Navigators will be giving away Know2Go swag, such as t-shirts, key chains, silicone bracelets, and stickers. Know2Go is a national multiyear, multimedia national campaign that encourages 8th through 10th graders to prepare for college.

An important date on Korte's calendar is Sunday, February 12, 2012, which is College Goal Sunday, a nationwide initiative to help families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is often viewed as a major hurdle in reaching education beyond high school.

In the Copper Country, College Goal Sunday will take place at Finlandia's Jutila Center campus, Hancock, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Resource workshops at the event will include helping students and families complete their 2011 tax returns and the FAFSA.

From Kennewick in southeast Washington, Korte is a 2011 graduate of Finlandia University's International School of Art & Design with a bachelor of fine arts in interdisciplinary design/product design.

Korte brings personal experience and commitment to his work with the College Positive project.

"Finishing my degree gave me a sense of pride and self-fulfillment. I didn't realize when I started as a freshman how big a stepping stone it would be," he says. "But I remember that it took a little work to get everything in line, especially applying for financial aid."

"Even with a degree it's hard to find a job today," Korte notes. "In addition to the classes, college gave me a lot of networking opportunities and I gathered some professional contacts through my friends and teachers. College is an important step in getting started on a career."

Korte says he was drawn to AmeriCorps because of the community service side of it.

"I like the idea of giving back and helping students," Korte says. "It wasn't very long ago that I was in their shoes. I know now that college is a realistic and achievable goal and I want to help others realize that, too."

Korte also views the one-year AmeriCorps stint as a good resume builder and an opportunity to continue networking and building professional and personal contacts.

Korte is also working with college and career access initiatives like the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), the Keweenaw College Access Network (KeweenawCAN!), and Know How2 Go Michigan.

Korte's AmeriCorps position is supported by Mentor Michigan, Michigan Campus Compact, and Finlandia University.

Finlandia was one of only nine sites in Michigan to be awarded the 2010-2011 College Positive Communities/Keweenaw Compass grant from Michigan Campus Compact, in partnership with the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). The grants were awarded to campuses interested in working on an integrated approach to college student service and access to higher education.

Contact Kevin Korte and Keweenaw Compass at 906-487-7264 or kevin.korte@finlandia.edu. His office is on the third floor of the Finlandia University Jutila Center Annex along with the community programs KeweenawCAN! and TRiO Upward Bound.

 

Mentor Michigan, an agency of the State of Michigan, supports nearly 250 organizations around the state that are changing lives by matching mentors with young people. To support youth mentoring, Mentor Michigan provides training and research, fosters partnerships with businesses, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, schools, colleges and universities, and state and local government, and builds public awareness of the importance of and the need for mentors

Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) is a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education. Its mission is to promote the education and commitment of Michigan college students to be civically engaged citizens.

College Positive Volunteers, part of the Michigan Campus Compact, College Positive Volunteers is a college access program that engages in efforts to increase the college enrollment and success for all students, and especially underrepresented students, by providing them with support and information about college preparation, paying for college, career selection, financial resources, etc. The CPV program includes four-year colleges and universities; two-year community and junior colleges; and vocational, technical, and business schools.

Keweenaw Compass. There is a strong disconnect in our tri-county area between students intending to pursue a postsecondary education and students who actually obtain a postsecondary education. To help close this gap, Finlandia University, the Keweenaw College Access Network, and the Copper Country Intermediate School District partnered to lay the groundwork for a pilot College Positive Volunteer initiative called "Keweenaw Compass."

Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). The mission on MCAN is to dramatically increase the college participation and completion rate in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color. MCAN works to ensure that everyone in Michigan has the opportunity to access and succeed in postsecondary education. MCAN's goal is to increase the proportion of Michigan residents with college degrees or high-quality credentials to 60% by the year 2025.

Keweenaw College Access Network (KeweenawCAN!). KCAN!'s mission is to raise awareness, access, and success of Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw County residents in postsecondary education.

Michigan College Access Portal (MichiganCAP) is a statewide initiative which provides free support for all students and families in Michigan to simplify the process of transitioning from high school to college and career.

KnowHow2GO is a multiyear, multimedia effort that encourage 8th through 10th graders to prepare for college using four simple steps. It was launched by The American Council on Education, Lumina Foundation for Education, and the Ad Council. Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is the lead partner for the KnowHow2GO campaign in Michigan.

AmeriCorps provides opportunities for more than 85,000 Americans to give back in an intensive way to their communities and country each year. It consists of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). The CCISD is a service agency that provides special support services, special help, and special equipment to educators in its 13 constituent local school districts in Houghton, Keweenaw, and Baraga counties.

Finlandia University, founded in 1896 as Suomi College, is the only private university in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and one of 26 colleges and universities affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is the only university in North America founded by Finnish immigrants. Located in the Hancock, Michigan, Finlandia University is a learning community dedicated to academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service. Bachelor and associate degrees are earned by students in two schools and two colleges serving the disciplines of art and design, business, liberal studies, and health sciences. Finlandia student-athletes compete in NCAA Division III sports.