The goal of the founding funders and Michigan Future, Inc. is to create new high schools at scale in Detroit and its inner ring suburbs to substantially increase the number of low income and/or minority students attending high quality schools.
MFI starts with grants from four local foundations of more than thirteen million dollars that will allow it to help launch seven new high schools over the next three years. MFI and its funders are committed to raising the funds to reach its goal of thirty five high schools in next eight years. Schools will be chosen through an annual competition.
The initiative – Michigan Future Schools – is designed to work with traditional public school districts, charter schools and private schools. Its focus is on quality, not governance or location. It will only work with new schools. And only with schools it believes have a high likelihood of meeting its student achievement expectations.
MFI expects that all students enrolled in the high schools it supports will succeed in college. It has committed to its funders that at least 85% of each school’s students will graduate from high school, of those graduates at least 85% will enroll in college and of those who enroll at least 85% will earn a college degree.
MFI does not believe that there is one right model of teaching and learning to get to those goals. It is willing to work with schools with a variety of approaches to teaching and learning. But it believes there are some core characteristics of schools that are most likely to achieve college success. These include:
1. A school culture committed to all students enrolling and succeeding in college and being career ready
2. Smaller numbers of students
3. Project based learning
4. Teaching and learning built on academic rigor, relevance and relationships
5. Responsive to the broad needs of each student: focused on the whole child, rather than exclusively on teaching content
6. Partnerships with higher education and/or employers ideally involving teaching and learning on college campuses and places of employment as well as in school
7. Working to engage families in their children’s teaching and learning
8. Continuous improvement. Driven by a commitment to all students succeeding in college, constantly adjusting teaching and learning to improve student achievement.
In addition to the above characteristics MFS funded schools need:
• to be open to students from the city Detroit
• to help students succeed in college, staff to include college transition and college success counselors
• if applicable, union agreements that allow for open hiring, no bumping into the school, and work rule flexibility that allows for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
• to participate in the small high school learning network co-convened by MFI and the Skillman Foundation.
• to agree to accelerator’s accountability standards
• to make available to the accelerator all student data that can legally be made available
• to agree to branding as an accelerator school


Please Click Here To Go To Michigan Future Schools Site

Michigan Future Schools is a program of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan think tank based in Ann Arbor that is led by President Lou Glazer. The initiative ended on June 30, 2016.

Our Mission

To create new small high schools at scale in Detroit and to support those schools so that thousands of additional Detroit students are prepared to enroll and succeed in college.

Our Goals

We expect that all students enrolled in our high schools will succeed in college.

We have committed to our funders that at least 85% of each school’s students will graduate from high school, 85% of graduates will enroll in college, and 85% of enrollees will earn a college degree.

Our Core Principles

High school graduation is only the first step. Enrolling in and graduating from college is our measure of success.  Designing a school that graduates students ready to succeed at a four-year, selective admission university is a fundamentally different enterprise than designing a school whose goal is high school graduation.

We care about kids and their success—not who’s in charge. We invest, financially and with our capacity-building support, in public, private, or charter schools that are committed to our goals.

We care about open doors and equal chances, not elite schools and special screening. We support schools throughout metro Detroit provided they are open to all Detroit students.

We’ve made a commitment to accelerate the expansion of new schools, not to spin wheels trying to transform failing schools.

How We Work

The initiative provides a four-year grant of $800,000 in start-up funding to each new school selected as part of its portfolio, and serves as:

  • An incubator that recruits, selects, and supports founders to lead the new high schools by funding a year of planning and providing assistance during that year with staff and partner recruitment, charter authorization (if applicable), facilities, school design, student recruitment, and training for founders, principals, teachers and board members.
  • An accelerator that speeds schools down the path towards excellence.  The MFS grant helps to support the cost of opening and operating the school for the first three years.  MFS provides training for key personnel through the first three years of operations so the schools are on track to graduate students ready for college, and offers ongoing capacity-building supports in our core service areas.
  • An advocate that builds community support for new high schools, tracks data on student achievement in schools and in college, manages a learning network of MFS supported schools and promotes state and local policies that support the development of new, small, high-performing schools.