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Studies have shown the benefits of connectedness and early momentum are especially strong for learners from low-income backgrounds. For the long-term academic wellbeing of these learners, it's essential for postsecondary education institutions to implement strategies to retain students from pre-enrollment through early course successes. Two new grants aim to help them do just that.
Why Supporting Financial Aid Administrators Is Key to Unlocking Opportunities for Incarcerated Learners
The return of Pell Grants for incarcerated learners has the potential to dramatically expand who has access to postsecondary education. It also poses fresh challenges for financial aid administrators. That’s why Ascendium is supporting the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators in providing technical assistance to financial aid officers and directors of prison education programs.
Support for Evidence-Based Workforce Training Models, New Projects to Help English-Language Learners, and More
- Targeted Investments Support Expansion of Evidence-Based Workforce Training Models
- New Projects Examine Barriers for English-Language Learners
- Recent Resources Show the Value of Good Workforce Training Programs
English-language learners are a diverse, rapidly growing subpopulation of learners who disproportionately come from low-income backgrounds. Community college programs dedicated to serving these learners provide a critical onramp to acquiring not only critical language skills but also credentials, which can lead to good-paying jobs. However, these pathways are often hampered by curricular misalignment, operational inefficiency, and ineffective classroom practices. A pair of groundbreaking research initiatives from WestEd and Community College Research Center are studying structural barriers for English-language learners with an eye toward broader reforms.
Short-term training is a streamlined pathway through postsecondary education that can lead to good, in-demand jobs and upward mobility. Ascendium has recently made several grants to workforce training organizations that explore, gather evidence, and support the scaling of high-quality short-term training programs. Our support of evaluation efforts also helps us, and the field, better understand the long-term impacts of these programs, which have the potential to help learners from low-income backgrounds reach their education and career goals.
A college education can be transformative, but it’s not the only route to career success. We’ve rounded up three resources highlighting promising approaches to workforce training that are already working to improve the lives of learners from low-income backgrounds.
Meet Our New Program Officer for Strategic Engagement, Learn How Rural Community Colleges Are Helping Learners, and More
- Introducing Our New Program Officer for Strategic Engagement, Amy Kuether
- Rural Community Colleges Utilize Strengths and Assets to Improve Learner Success
- Perspectives from the Field: Community Colleges Connect Learners to Credentials that Meet Local Workforce Needs
Perspectives from the Field: Community Colleges Connect Learners to Credentials that Meet Local Workforce Needs
As postsecondary education costs continue to rise, today’s community colleges are vital to delivering high-value, affordable credentials that result in upward mobility and meet regional labor market needs. To develop these paths and guide learners through them, these institutions need strong data, advising and partnerships. We talked to leaders from three colleges, Valencia College, Lorain County Community College and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. They share how their work with the Aspen Institute Unlocking Opportunity Program will shift learners into identified high-value credentials, serving as a model for others to follow.
Of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated in the U.S., only 5% have access to high-quality postsecondary education. A new university research center aims to fix that problem by gathering and distributing data that allows states to serve incarcerated learners more equitably.
Rural community colleges offer many examples and lessons on how to improve postsecondary education success for learners from low-income backgrounds. Institutions across the country can learn from the rural community colleges profiled in the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program’s (CEP) latest report, which highlights how they utilize their strengths and assets to best serve their learners. Insights shared in the report will also inform continued enhancements to CEP’s curriculum for community college leadership and its on-the-ground support of institutions working on transforming to better serve learners.
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