A 10-year partnership launched in 2011 between Ascendium, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and researchers funded by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, set out to evaluate the impact of promise scholarships on college attendance and persistence. To receive the scholarship, students needed to meet a specified set of academic and enrollment requirements.
The Degree Project had some impact on students’ motivation, college expectations, and steps toward college. However, it had no effect on the academic measures and no effect on whether students went directly on to college. While The Degree Project scholarship did not have the hypothesized positive impact on college access and persistence, the project was nonetheless worthwhile. First, 312 students received more than $2.68 million to attend college. And, the lack of impacts helped to inform Ascendium’s current focus on removing structural barriers to success at the institutional and system level rather than providing financial supports alone.