Third 90 Network

An Innovative Learning Model with Urban High Schools to Teach Environmental Science

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The Third 90 Network, a statewide, nationally-recognized program, is a catalyst for improving learning outcomes, raising college aspirations, and sharpening STEM career awareness. This early-engagement program combines urban high school students (Juniors and Seniors) with MCA college professors and students, conducting hands-on environmental research. The Third 90 Network engages students in a challenging academic setting, gives them a realistic notion of college-level work, builds their social, academic and career mentor networks, and prepares them for college success.

The Third 90 Network helps high school students:

  • Prepare for academic success at the college level
  • Develop a network of mentors at the high school and college levels
  • Broaden awareness of independent higher education options
  • Qualify for MCA scholarships and ultimately, obtain a four-year college degree
  • Increase their active, outdoor time
  • Understand the importance for community health and wellness

Building on the success of the Pilot Program

The first pilot project of the Third 90 Network was held in fall 2010 at Detroit’s University Preparatory Academy (UPA) with great success. MCA has since expanded the Third 90 Network throughout the state to ten high schools and seven MCA member colleges and universities, now engaging more than 300 high school students each year.  Through the support of generous donors, the Third 90 Network will continue to expand to high schools and communities across the state.

Participating MCA Institutions:

Albion College
Aquinas College
Calvin College
Hope College 
Kalamazoo College
Madonna University
Marygrove College
Siena Heights University

Participating High Schools:

Detroit Community
Cass Technical High School
Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Study 
Taylor Preparatory High School
University Preparatory Academy High School
University Prep Science and Math High School

Grand Rapids Community
Grand River Prep High School
Innovation Central High School
University Preparatory Academy of Grand Rapids
Wellspring Prep High School

Coldwater Community
Three Rivers High School


Third 90 Network Sponsors

Cascade Engineering, Consumers Energy Foundation, The Council of Independent Colleges, CoCaseCo LLC, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Fifth Third Bank-Western Michigan, Masco Foundation, Meijer, Tom & Jacqueline Meyer, Rock Financial and The Wege Foundation

Third 90 Network Partners

Belle Isle Conservancy, Belle Isle Park, Blandford Nature Center, Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Third 90 Network students participated in three exciting summer programs - learn more about the programs HERE.

Dr. Tim Lincoln, a Third 90 faculty member and professor from Albion College, recently presented on the Third 90 Network at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.  View his poster here.


View the Third 90 Grand Rapids Community Video. 


To learn more, call MCA at 248.356.3114

Hands-on Work to Restore Wetlands
“The real beauty of this program, outside of the extraordinary environmental work, is the opportunity for UPA students to work alongside and interact with college students and professors in such a meaningful way and the mentoring that goes on. After participating in something like this, how the students view their future is expanded –from the colleges they consider to the career possibilities they choose to pursue.”
Bob Thompson
The Thompson Foundation