Michelle Miller-Adams

Miller-Adams’s work at the Upjohn Institute focuses on the local, state, and national movement toward tuition-free college. She is the author of The Path to Free College: In Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Prosperity (Harvard Education Press, 2021), Promise Nation: Transforming Communities through Place-Based Scholarships (Upjohn Institute, 2015), The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo (Upjohn Institute, 2009), and Owning Up: Poverty, Assets and the American Dream (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), as well as an earlier book on the World Bank. One of the nation’s leading experts on the Kalamazoo Promise and the free-college movement, she speaks with local and national media and advises state policymakers and community stakeholders on their tuition-free college initiatives.

Miller-Adams is co-director of the Institute's place-based research initiative that explores how communities facing economic challenges can create broadly shared prosperity for their residents. In this role, she is co-author of the initiative’s reports, Building Shared Prosperity: How Communities Can Create Good Jobs for All (2019), Investing in Community: A Playbook for Connecting Economic and Skills Development (2020), and “A Moment of Opportunity: Strategies for Inclusive Economic Growth” (2021)

She is also co-project director of a Strada Education Foundation grant to study the workforce outcomes of Promise programs. In addition to her role at the Institute, Miller-Adams is a professor of political science at Grand Valley State University.

Selected radio interviews

The Best of Our Knowledge (May 6, 2021)

IdeaSphere: A Platform for Today's Voices (May 11, 2021)

Leonard Lopate At Large on WBAI (May 11, 2021)

The Roundtable with Joe Donahue on Northeast Public Radio (May 20, 2021)

The Morning Show with Greg Berg on WGTD (May 25, 2021)

The Jefferson Exchange (June 16, 2021)

WMUK News Magazine (June 22, 2021)

More on free college

Watch a video that explains the key themes in The Path to Free College: In Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Prosperity.

"Free College? Why Wait for the Feds?" Michelle Miller-Adams and Brad Hershbein. Governing, June 14, 2021.

5 Ways to Get Human-Infrastructure Initiatives Right” (with Kathleen Bolter), Governing: The Future of States and Localities, October 13, 2021

A return to normal isn’t good enough for the American economy,” Barron’s, May 7, 2021

Michigan is offering free college for essential workers. The rest of the country should follow suit” (with Max Lubin), Business Insider, March 22, 2021

If free college is the goal, start with community college,” Politico, February 4, 2021

We Need Tuition-Free College. For Adults,” New York Times, May 14, 2020

Research Highlights