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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

Strengthening Implementation of Equitable Placement Policy Reform at Community Colleges

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Campaign for College Opportunity|$650,000|12/2021 - 12/2023
This grant supports Campaign for College Opportunity in strengthening implementation of equitable math placement policy to increase student success and close racial/ethnic equity gaps for students in California.

No Holding Back: Using Data to Review and Revise Administrative Hold Policies among Public Postsecondary Institutions in the Western Region

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Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education|$405,000|5/2022 - 10/2023
This grant supports the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, in partnership with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, in developing tools for institutions to use in evaluating the impact of their administrative hold policies and practices on equitable student success.

Provosts’ Student Success Network

Exploration
American Association of State Colleges and Universities|$1,580,850|10/2019 - 7/2023
This grant supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in developing and delivering guided pathways training for Provosts at access-oriented four-year institutions. A Provosts’ Network for Student Success will create a professional network and set of curriculum equipping leaders to leverage their roles for institutional transformation.

Guided Pathways: “What and How To” Educational Series

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Teachers College, Columbia University|$1,812,945|9/2020 - 7/2023
This grant supports the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University in creating a suite of training materials designed for colleges that have not been well served by existing technical assistance providers in the guided pathways reform movement.

Scaling Community College Baccalaureates in a Changing Landscape

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New America Foundation|$300,000|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports the New America Foundation in examining the role that community college baccalaureates play in meeting employer demand for degrees, as well as demand for affordable bachelors degrees for low-income and rural communities.

On the Path to a Degree (OnPath)

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MDRC|$570,300|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports MDRC in providing technical assistance to five institutions within a state community college system and five other minority-serving community colleges to assess and develop communications plans that will improve persistence and degree completion rates for students from low-income backgrounds.

Implementing and Evaluating Caring Campus Faculty Engagement

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Institute for Evidence-Based Change|$1,729,541|11/2019 - 12/2022
This grant supports the Institute for Evidence-Based Change in cultivating caring campus environments to increase student retention. The project seeks to implement the program with faculty at 14 community colleges and allow the Community College Research Center to evaluate impact on students, faculty, staff and the institutions overall.

Moving Mathematics Pathways to Normative Practice in Arkansas

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University of Texas at Austin|$1,474,981|9/2019 - 12/2022
This grant supports the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin in ensuring that math pathways are offered to the vast majority of Arkansas college students. The Dana Center will provide technical assistance through a regional support network and pilot new tools and resources with Arkansas institutions.

Codifying Career Pathways Initiative

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UNCF|$1,987,366|1/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports UNCF in scaling up an initiative aimed at increasing student success outcomes at 8 to 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The work will increase these institutions’ capacity to serve low-income students and students of color, increasing academic and economic equity for both groups and producing best practices to inform other under-resourced colleges serving low-income students or students of color.

Capitalizing on Federal Momentum to Advance Postsecondary Student Success

Exploration
MDRC|$250,000|8/2021 - 11/2022
This grant supports a project by MDRC, SHEEO and The Education Trust in capitalizing on momentum created by several federal proposals to provide funding for college student success programs. The effort will equip states and colleges with guidance and technical assistance so that they prioritize the implementation of programs with the strongest evidence base.

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