Ascendium Invests $16 Million in Postsecondary Education in Prisons, Math Pathways and More | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content


Newsletter Article May 13, 2021

Ascendium Invests $16 Million in Postsecondary Education in Prisons, Math Pathways and More

Ascendium’s Board of Directors approved funding for 18 new grants totaling $16 million at its spring meeting. The approved proposals include efforts to improve postsecondary education in prison programs, restructure math requirements to increase first-year persistence, retention and completion rates, and build the capacity of rural Pacific Island postsecondary institutions to use data and collaboration to increase student success.

Here are some of the new grants funded under Ascendium’s four focus areas:

  • Assessing Quality and Equitable Access and Outcomes of Distance Postsecondary Courses for the Incarcerated supports the American Institutes for Research in conducting a study to examine the characteristics of a select group of online postsecondary education in prison programs. By analyzing these programs, this study hopes to begin identifying the characteristics of high-quality programs that lead to successful student outcomes.
  • Minnesota Math Pathways supports the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system in replacing no-credit remedial math classes with credit-bearing math coursework that is more relevant to each student’s program of study. These reforms would enable significantly more students from low-income backgrounds to complete a certificate or degree.
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Research Capacity Building Initiative funds APIA Scholars to lead a cohort of rural Pacific Island postsecondary institutions as they expand their capacity to analyze data and use collaborative research strategies to improve policies and practices. The initiative’s goal is to increase Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander student success by increasing first-year persistence and credential completion.
  • Scaling Community College Partnerships to Expand Access to Technology Careers supports Generation USA in expanding their proven model of supporting learners from low-income backgrounds in accessing quality technology training that leads to good careers and upward social mobility. Over the course of 18 months, Generation USA will test three types of partnerships with community colleges with a goal to discover what works best to connect learners with jobs that result in increased socioeconomic mobility.

“These grants will help uncover knowledge, explore new ideas and expand on proven approaches that will help increase learner success,” said Amy Kerwin, Ascendium’s vice president - education philanthropy. “We’re excited about the work these partners will undertake and look forward to learning with and from them as they move this important work forward.”

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