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Female student thinking thoughtfully about her future
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2020 Education Philanthropy Report, Empowering Possibilities

Samaad Wes Keys

Program Officer – Remove Structural Barriers to Success
Partnering with current and potential grantees and other funders to elevate opportunities for learners from low-income backgrounds so they can better achieve their postsecondary educational and career goals.

Samaad Wes Keys is a program officer at Ascendium. He is responsible for strategic grantmaking in support of Ascendium’s Remove Structural Barriers to Success focus area, which seeks to transform colleges and universities to foster seamless academic pathways for learners from low-income backgrounds.

Previously, Samaad served as a strategist for UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, which is dedicated to supporting the resiliency of HBCUs by improving their institutional effectiveness, academic competitiveness, and financial viability. Samaad’s previous experiences also include leadership roles at Achieving the Dream, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Southern Education Foundation.

Raised in Paterson, New Jersey, he earned a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Georgia, a master of arts in education from Central Michigan University, and a bachelor of arts in psychology from Morehouse College.

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