LANSING, Mich.− Youth in foster care and adoptive families now have a stronger path forward toward higher education thanks to Ferris State University.

In line with the Michigan College Access Network’s (MCAN) mission to increase college participation and The New Foster Care’s (TNFC) goal of supporting youth transitioning out of foster care, MCAN and TNFC commend Ferris President David Eisler and his wife Patsy for their recent establishment of the Norris and Irene Johnson Scholarship Endowment.

Ferris recently announced the creation of the Endowment after the Eisler family chose to memorialize Patsy’s adoptive parents, Norris and Irene Johnson, with a $350,000 scholarship endowment. The Ferris Foundation has matched that gift through the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge, creating $700,000 in scholarship support for former foster care youth to attend Ferris and earn a bachelor’s degree.

“MCAN is thrilled to learn of this new and important resource for youth in foster care.  This is a tremendous commitment to increasing college access and expanding opportunity for those students often left behind by our systems,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN’s interim executive director. “The Eisler’s support for youth in foster care and adoptive families to consider higher education is an incredible gift as is the inclusion of these students in the Ferris family.”

According to Casey Family Programs, 70 percent of youth in foster care report that they want to attend college, but fewer than 10 percent who graduate from high school enroll in college, and of those less than one percent graduate from college.

"I was honored to meet with Dr. David Eisler while doing a Fostering Success Michigan campus tour for youth who have experienced foster care," said Khadija Walker-Fobbs, Executive Director of The New Foster Care. "His vision and passion for all youth, combined with the mentor and coaching supports provided through the Ferris Youth Initiative foster care support program, create a legacy of leadership and generational change."

The State of Michigan also recognizes the importance of assisting youth in foster care and adoptive families through the Fostering Futures Scholarship, made possible by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Treasury.

“Care and responsibility for children and youth in foster care is everyone’s business,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Services Agency. “All of our youth deserve an opportunity to pursue their dreams of a higher education and a fair chance to succeed in adulthood. With this generous donation the Eislers and Ferris State are helping our youth realize their dreams of a college education.”

For more information about the Norris and Irene Johnson Scholarship Endowment, visit For more information about the Ferris Youth Initiative visit Learn more about MCAN at, TNFC at, and Fostering Success Michigan at


About Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased—from 35.7 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41 percent in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45 percent as of 2019.  It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2030. For more information, visit

News Release

Media Contact: Christopher Tremblay