Building Regional Alliance Capacity in the Midwest

On September 20, 2022 Susanna Miller-Raines, Think College regional alliance manager, was at the University of Missouri St. Louis to lead the Midwest Inclusive Postsecondary Education Alliance (MIPSA) in a Capacity Building Institute (CBI). This CBI facilitated the disassembly of the existing MIPSA regional alliance into three distinct regional alliances. Representatives from Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin were among the 13 who attended in person and four people attended virtually.

Through working with the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network (Think College Network) on regional alliance development, MIPSA determined they were too large to effectively serve their members and decided to split into three smaller, more geographically focused regional alliances. Each new regional alliance is being launched in phases. The first group to begin a new regional alliance is MIPSA, which has refined their geographic reach which is still to be defined. The Great Lakes Inclusive Postsecondary Education Alliance (GLIPSEA) is the second emerging regional alliance taking shape. GLIPSEA is led by Jessie Green from the Ohio consortium as well as a core team with representation from Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The third regional alliance is emerging and consists of states within the Upper Midwest including Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. MIPSA will be supporting all of the states in this transition. 

During the MIPSA CBI, Danie Roberts-Dahm, Think College Network’s project coordinator, joined Susanna via Zoom, to support the three teams to plan for their new regional alliances. Each group made a timeline of activities for the next six months and determined core team members to lead the regional alliance planning. The teams will be supported by the Think College Network through their journeys to develop their regional alliances. Leadership teams from each regional alliance will participate in monthly individual technical assistance meetings as well as monthly regional alliance workgroup meetings, where they can  discuss topics relevant to the growth and expansion of regional alliance across the country. One of the goals of the Think College Network is to increase the number of regional alliances in order to support and expand inclusive postsecondary education programs, state alliances, and peer to peer learning across the country. 

The vision of the Think College Network is to create a regional community for professionals and advocates to work together to advance access to higher education for people with intellectual disability through policy, training, and education in a particular region. If you are interested in bringing people together in your region to start a regional alliance, please contact Susanna Miller-Raines