LANSING, Mich. — Producing highly qualified teachers to meet Michigan’s growing teacher shortage is just one of the ways Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) is creating and implementing solutions to Michigan’s education challenges. The university alliance also is creating the programs and support students need to succeed, according to a new URC K-12 Education Brief.

The brief focuses on how Michigan’s top three research universities that make up the URC ― Michigan State University (MSU), the University of Michigan (U-M) and Wayne State University (WSU) ― are transforming education in the state by providing research, innovative solutions for student learning and nationally recognized teacher education programs. Between 2013 and 2017, URC schools invested $250 million in 1,149 research, outreach and service projects.

One example is the Math Corps program that Wayne State University began in 1991 in Detroit and now is expanding to other cities. For 27 years, Math Corps has offered Detroit students in grades 6-12 the chance to attend intensive summer math camps as well as year-round Saturday programs. Ninety percent of its participants have graduated from high school since 1995, with eight out of 10 then going on to college.

The program now includes a partnership in Ypsilanti with U-M, which launched its first summer math camp this year. Math Corps also will be working with students in other communities partnered with U-M Dearborn, Oakland University and Lawrence Technological University in Southeast Michigan.

Just this month, MSU’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) issued the first independent report on Michigan’s Partnership Model for school reform, giving policymakers a clearer picture on what interventions are significantly improving struggling schools serving 54,000 students.

“For 140 years, our universities have made preparing teachers, helping K-12 students and improving the education system a part of their mission,” said Britany Affolter-Caine, URC executive director. “These programs and projects have assisted educators and students in both peninsulas, in rural and urban areas, and have sparked improvements to the education system statewide.”

Each university is creating pathways and opportunities for K-12 students to succeed at every education level, whether that involves putting recent college graduates as guidance counselors into underserved high schools or creating partnerships with schools around the state to discover new and better techniques for teaching and learning.

“The URC truly is in a unique position to conduct the research needed to tackle education challenges and create and implement the solutions that can help school districts statewide,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It’s a responsibility we take seriously.”

The report highlights programs from each university that improve education, from promoting statewide policy changes to providing resources and opportunities so low-income students can receive a college education. “U-M has always strived to produce educators who truly can make a difference in children’s lives, including creating the first permanent professional chair devoted exclusively to the preparation of teachers in 1879,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “We are proud to continue to work with school districts to not only develop the best teachers but also disrupt the inequities that prevent many students from getting a high-quality education.”

Among the issues tackled by the three URC universities is early literacy. Across URC institutions there is a clear commitment to improving the state’s literacy outcomes and ensure that every Michigan child has the skills needed to succeed in school and in life.  URC institutions have committed considerable time, energy, and resources to improving early literacy through a wide range of programs:

  • To increase reading and writing proficiency, MSU and U-M professors helped write preschool and K–3 Literacy Essentials, outlining evidence-based teaching practices that should be used with every child, in every classroom, every day; they also are helping create free online training modules to ensure that all educators have access to them.
  • U-M is rigorously studying the effects of a model that accelerates both science learning and reading comprehension among first and second graders, which is being employed in early elementary classrooms across the state.
  • Through its High Five Literacy Program, WSU is training graduate students in unique tutoring techniques to assist students who are still struggling with reading and writing in middle school.


WSU’s Center for Research on Urban Education opened in June 2019 and focuses on promoting equity, social justice, opportunity and transformation. The center is building on Wayne State’s national reputation for results as it focuses its efforts on the needs of urban students and educators.

“We’re not afraid to look for new solutions to the challenges school districts, administrators, teachers and students face today,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. “We truly are committed to making sure every child, regardless of circumstances, gets a chance to learn and succeed.”

Among the URC universities’ many research efforts is the Michigan Education Research Institute (MERI), which gathers data and analyzes hundreds of different aspects of K-12 education to develop sound education practices and propose evidence-based policies that can be adopted statewide. MERI is a partnership between the Michigan Department of Education, the Center for Educational Performance and Information, MSU and U-M.