History of Michigan Benefits Access

From an unprecedented public/private partnership in Michigan’s history, arose the decision to launch the Michigan Benefits Access (MBA). The genesis of this initiative was the devastating economic recession that left Michigan as one of the hardest hit states in the nation. Consequently, the time was ripe for just such a partnership of government and the nonprofit sectors. Both sides well understood the problems associated with the economic crisis hitting the state and the need to deal with the related, crushing needs of desperate families and children, especially the first-time poor who had never before experienced such a phenomenon.

The ongoing evolution of MBA began with a challenge facing Michigan’s governmental officials and the state’s community of foundations and other nonprofits: find a better way to allow struggling Michigan families the ability to easily access and receive the benefits to which they are eligible and entitled. The most pressing need, all agreed, was for a better, more user-friendly and technologically advanced system that would allow Michigan citizens to register for, and begin receiving, those benefits. Beyond that, MBA partners said there should be more targeted and sustained public educational and outreach initiatives to let citizens know what benefits are available, along with development of methodologies and metrics for tracking the success of those efforts.

Both government officials and nonprofit leaders moved towards parallel plans to create an easy-to-access, online, one-stop integrated registration and delivery system to get these families and individuals the benefit dollars and services they are entitled to coupled with nonprofit outreach. The resulting technology is called MI Bridges and is developed and maintained by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.