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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Our philanthropy focuses on reducing or eliminating institutional and systemic barriers for underrepresented postsecondary education learners so they can achieve their academic and career goals.

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How We See the Problem

Today’s learners often aren’t well served by the educational systems that were built years ago for more traditional students. Now students are often older, more diverse, working one or more jobs, raising families, and struggling to make ends meet.

Colleges and universities are complex, and often don’t have a student-centric approach to course offerings or availability, advising and other institutional policies. The problem shows in the equity gaps in completion rates: just 11% of low-income students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Almost 6 times as many students — 58% overall — from higher-income households graduate.

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Our Three Investment Priorities

Grants to Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Equity and Policy Alignment to Drive Student Graduation Rates and Close Attainment Gaps

Exploration
Complete College America Inc|$1,750,000|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports Complete College America in building capacity for networks of institutions to implement equity-centered completion policies and practices.

Curricular Analytics

Validation
Colorado State University|$1,997,600|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities, hosted at Colorado State University, in validating the relationship between curricular structure and equitable student outcomes. A network of national senior leaders will collaborate to develop and test strategies for using their institutional data to engage faculty in revising university curriculum.

NACUBO Strategically Financing Structures to Remove Barriers

Exploration
National Association of College and University Business Officers|$2,999,100|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports the National Association of College and University Business Officers in creating a network of postsecondary leaders equipped to transform their institutions through strategic finance. The project will produce frameworks, tools and models that will change how colleges analyze, prioritize and fund their initiatives committed to equitable student outcomes.

Equity Action Intensive

Exploration
The National Association of System Heads|$200,000|12/2022 - 6/2024
This grant supports the National Association of System Heads in partnering with four to six state postsecondary systems to develop robust plans for improving equity in postsecondary outcomes for learners of color and learners from low-income backgrounds. Selected systems will conduct self-assessments, set concrete equity goals, receive expert technical assistance and initiate reforms.

Community College Doctoral Program Redesign

Exploration
University of Maryland Global Campus|$825,825|6/2020 - 5/2024
This grant supports the University of Maryland Global Campus in developing a new doctoral program in community college leadership. The program curriculum will be comprehensive and innovative, designed in collaboration with influential community college stakeholders and thought leaders.

Advancing Equitable Outcomes through Leadership

Exploration
North Carolina State University|$1,803,200|6/2021 - 5/2024
This grant supports North Carolina State University’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership in building capacity for presidents, senior teams and trustees of the state’s 58 community colleges. Learner-centered leadership development is needed to address structural barriers to student success and implement solutions that will achieve equitable outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds.

2023 Aspen Prize and New Student Outcomes Data Benchmarking Tool

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,200,000|4/2022 - 3/2024
This grant supports the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program in awarding the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and developing a set of data tools, benchmarks and resources to expand adoption of core student success practices related to community college excellence. This grant will support broader field use and engagement with metrics, enabling colleges to benchmark their progress and set institutional reform goals accordingly.

Governing Board Success Academy

Exploration
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education|$2,078,900|10/2020 - 3/2024
This grant supports the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, in partnership with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, in providing professional development to governing boards on prioritizing equitable student success through practice, policy and budget oversight.

Transformational Partnership Fund

Exploration
SeaChange Capital Partners Inc|$500,000|1/2021 - 12/2023
This grant supports SeaChange Capital Partners in developing and launching the Transformational Partnership Fund, a funding vehicle that will provide postsecondary institution leaders with opportunities to explore and form long-term strategic partnerships ranging from mergers and acquisitions to administrative shared services or consolidated programs.

Data Fellows Program Pilot

Exploration
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities|$670,834|11/2019 - 12/2023
This grant supports the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Association for Institutional Research in piloting a Data Fellows program to improve data literacy on campus among faculty and staff. The program will foster increased use of student data to inform strategic, tactical and operational decisions, with the ultimate aim of improving student success outcomes.

View All Ascendium Grants

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