DETROIT — According to a new “High School Kids in Immigrant Families” study commissioned by Global Detroit, 300,000 Michigan kids live in immigrant families, where at least one person was born outside the U.S. Of these, 70,000 are Michigan high school students — 15 percent of all Michigan high schoolers — including 17,000 in each graduating class over the next four years.
Given the state’s population growth and workforce development goals, it is critical for Michigan’s policymakers, higher education sector and workforce development programs to provide opportunities to this growing population. Immigrants play a critical role in Michigan’s economy, as they account for all of the state’s population growth since 1990, and international students make up 50 percent of the graduate students in STEM degree programs in Michigan and across the U.S. In September, Global Detroit will distribute $500,000 in Immigrant Student Success Grants to support community college programs that foster student success for immigrant and refugee students, as well as the first-generation children of immigrant families chronicled by this study.
The high school kids in immigrant families study
Conducted by the Immigration Research Initiative (IRI) and the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), and funded by Global Detroit, the study reinforces the need to create pathways for immigrants seeking postsecondary education and brings to light the increasingly important role community colleges play in serving international, immigrant, refugee and first-generation students. In fact, according to the recently released “Compete to Win: Building a World Class Community College System” study from Business Leaders of Michigan, community colleges are one of the state’s strongest assets for providing pathways to prosperity for underserved populations, cultivating the talent pipeline and strengthening the economy.
The “Kids in Immigrant Families” study offers important data on the geographic, language, income and educational barriers faced by children of immigrant families. One finding indicates that students from immigrant families are nearly 4.5 times as likely to come from a family where the parents lack a high school degree. This is a critical issue, as a lack of parental education statistically lowers the likelihood of children achieving postsecondary status.
“Michigan is leading the way in reaching out to high schoolers from immigrant families,” said Anthony Capote, a senior data and policy analyst at the IRI. “Many of these students will go on to be the first college graduates in their families, and we have a responsibility to support them in their journeys toward that goal.”
- In six Michigan counties (Ingham, Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Macomb and Kent), more than 20 percent of high school students are from immigrant families.
- While 28 community colleges serve immigrant families, six community college districts (Oakland, Wayne, Grand Rapids, Macomb, Henry Ford and Lansing) serve 75 percent of those families. Four of these districts are in Southeast Michigan.
- There is a significantly larger percentage of immigrant parents who have less formal education. Students from immigrant families are nearly 4.5 times as likely to come from a family where the parent lacks a high school degree. This is a critical finding, because a lack of parental education statistically lowers the likelihood of children achieving postsecondary status.
- Among high school kids in immigrant families (15 percent of all high schoolers in Michigan), 50 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American or Latinx, and more than 40 percent are White. Many of these White high school-aged kids in immigrant families are likely Arab American.
- Language access can be a challenge for many immigrant parents. While 90 percent of high school kids in immigrant families speak English proficiently, only 54 percent of their parents do.
Immigrant student success grants
Global Detroit is working to help Michigan community colleges improve services for immigrant, refugee and first-generation students. In June, Global Detroit, the State of Michigan Office of Sixty by 30, and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) announced $1.5 million in Community College Student Success Grants. These funds include $500,000 designated for Immigrant Student Success Grants, to be awarded to community colleges in September.
The Immigrant Student Success Grants are funded by the state of Michigan as part of the $5 million Global Talent Attraction and Retention Program (GTARP), a group of seven immigrant-focused workforce development initiatives that focus on attracting high-skilled New Americans, international students and companies to Michigan; retaining these new residents, as well as those already here and placing this skilled and credentialed workforce with Michigan companies to fill unmet talent needs, establishing Michigan as a center for global prosperity.
“We are excited to announce the Immigrant Student Success Grant awards in September and encourage all Michigan community colleges to find ways to increase immigrant student success,” said Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit. “These are life changing opportunities for immigrant and first-generation Americans.”
The Immigrant Student Success Grants are believed to be the first or among the first state investments anywhere in the U.S. to fund building more inclusive community college programs and systems.
Follow Global Detroit on Facebook and bookmark our press page to learn more about the Immigrant Student Success Grants and other Global Detroit programs that help create a more equitable and prosperous Michigan through immigrant inclusion.
For more information, visit globaldetroitmi.org.