Opportunity for All:
Systemic Wins

Years-Long Advocacy Leads to Historic School Funding Wins & Systemic Changes for Students who are Underserved

It did not happen overnight. Indeed, this was an effort years in the making by committed leaders and advocates working across sectors, geographic regions, and on both sides of the aisle.

Following a multi-year campaign by Ed Trust-Midwest and most recently with partners in the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO) coalition, in June 2023 Michigan joined the nation’s first ten states with state school funding formulas that include an index for concentrations of poverty, among states with similar funding systems.

The moment represented a historic and major systemic change in Michigan’s school funding system.

Historic Wins

The new “Opportunity Index” will drive much greater state investment in students who qualify for at-risk funding based on a school district’s concentration of poverty, regardless of region.

Along with ETM, MPEO — a diverse statewide coalition of leaders and organizations ranging from civil rights, business, research, parent, direct service, and other sectors — has made the Opportunity Index and historic investments in students who qualify for at-risk funding, English Learners, and students with disabilities a top priority in their collective efforts over the last three years.

“This is a moment of both great progress and sober celebration,” Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest and also a tri-chair of MPEO, said at the time. “We celebrate the tremendous progress made this year for students from low-income backgrounds, as well as English Learners and students with disabilities. This is the beginning of a real conversation about what fair funding should look like in Michigan.”

Children raise their hands in their elementary classroom

Systemic Wins Will Bring Billions of Dollars to Students Who are Underserved

In the immediate term, the Opportunity Index will drive more than $950 million to the public education of students who qualify for “at-risk” funding in the FY24 state school budget, or more than $200 million above the FY23 state budget. The new state funding mechanism, which is set in state statute for the first time, also sets new long-term goals for investing in Michigan’s students who qualify for at-risk funding that, upon full implementation, will invest more than $2.9 billion annually in these students. The Opportunity Index and historic investment in students who qualify for at-risk funding are just two of the major systemic funding developments. Among the others supported by ETM and the MPEO:

  • Lawmakers voted to support fully funding the foundation allowance for students with disabilities for the first time in Michigan. FY24 will be the first time districts receive 100% of the foundation allowance for students with disabilities in addition to 28.6% of the cost of delivering special education services. Last year, districts received only 75% of the foundation allowance for these students in addition to the required reimbursements. ETM has long worked with partners to increase funding for students with disabilities.
  • State policymakers supported an investment of the greatest level of funding ever for English Learners, or $39.8 million dollars in the FY24 school aid budget — an increase of 50 percent over FY23. This was a funding change priority for ETM and MPEO.

Lawmakers also supported these priorities, which were championed by Ed Trust-Midwest and the statewide MPEO coalition:

  • $150 million for MI Kids Back on Track. Policy leaders included high-quality parameters for the tutoring investment to ensure students receive effective, evidence-based, high dosage tutoring — a priority for the MPEO coalition.

  • The budget included an additional $50 million for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and $10 million in new funding to assist students in filling out their FAFSA applications.

Advocacy Day

In spring of 2023, nearly 20 MPEO members banded together for an impactful day of advocacy in Lansing. A kickoff networking breakfast provided space for coalition members to meet with state representatives, discuss the urgency of fairly funding schools so that all students have the resources they need to be successful, and speak on behalf of the communities and organizations they represent.