Remove Structural Barriers to Success | Ascendium Education Group Skip to main content

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.

See Grants in This Focus Area
focus area page Structural

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.

Download The PDF
RemoveSys09202x

Ascendium's Approach

An investment priority to…

Create conditions for institutional and system readiness for learner success reforms

Means we support…

  • Identifying misaligned policies and practices that reduce the efficacy of learner success reforms
  • Developing learner-centered postsecondary leaders in roles across institutions and systems

Which will lead to…

  • Networks of institutions and systems achieving more equitable learner outcomes
  • Networks and systems better understanding the financial impacts of learner success reforms
  • Leadership development that contributes to equitable student success

An investment priority to…

Support the development and evaluation of promising approaches and interventions to increase completion rates and decrease time to degree

Means we support…

  • Seeding the exploration of innovative ideas
  • Conducting mixed methods evaluations to determine the efficacy and scalability of interventions

Which will lead to…

  • Creation of evidence supporting reforms that lead to more equitable learner outcomes
  • Stakeholders having a better understanding of what works to drive equitable learner outcomes

An investment priority to…

Support the widespread adoption of evidence-based institutional and system policies and practices that drive equitable student outcomes

Means we support…

  • Scaling effective practices that ensure leaners complete degrees or credentials without excess credits
  • Enhancing data infrastructure to maximize its use for decision making and information sharing

Which will lead to…

  • Institutions adopting developmental education reforms at scale
  • More learners enrolling in and completing gateway courses during their first year
  • Institutions prioritizing course availability and advising in a way that decreases time to degree and unnecessary credit accumulation

Grants to Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Development and Validation of a Compelling Income Share Agreement Program

Exploration
Partnership for Education Advancement|$50,000|1/2019 - 6/2020
This grant supports Education Finance Institute in designing and developing an income share agreement program that can best serve the broad needs of postsecondary students, including those attending four year institutions that focus on low income, first generation and disadvantaged populations and inter-generational mobility.

Informing Wisconsin Grant Policy

Exploration
The RAND Corporation|$149,780|5/2018 - 3/2020
This grant supports RAND Corporation in conducting a study to estimate the effects of financial aid on various student subgroups in Wisconsin. The study will produce evidence on outcomes, overall effectiveness and allocative efficiency, with a focus on allocation of funds.

Workshop on Understanding Success and Failure of Students in Developmental Mathematics

Exploration
National Academy of Sciences|$344,247|8/2018 - 1/2020
This grant supports the National Academy of Sciences in convening a workshop of national experts to better understand the populations and needs of students who are not well-served by existing developmental education reforms. The March 2019 workshop seeks to define the challenges, resulting in a report setting forth a research agenda to help identify strategies for improvement.

UIA Fellows 2.0

Scaling
University Innovation Alliance|$1,021,250|2/2018 - 1/2020
This grant supports the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) in funding a fellowship at each of the 11 UIA member campuses for 2018 (with matching funding from the campuses for 2019) and a newly created program director position for both years. The UIA Fellowship Program is designed to accelerate scaling of UIA initiatives and provide sustained capacity and project management support.

Evaluation of Open Educational Resources Degree Initiative

Validation
Achieving the Dream Inc|$800,000|4/2016 - 12/2019
This grant supports Achieving the Dream (ATD) in engaging the research firm SRI to conduct an evaluation of ATD’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative. Working with the 20-30 colleges selected to create OER degrees, SRI will evaluate outcomes in three areas: academic impact on students; economic impact on institutions; and models, guidelines and best practices for successful OER Degree implementation.

2017-2019 College Completion Grant

Exploration
North Dakota State University|$200,000|1/2017 - 11/2019
This grant supports efforts at 14 two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin to identify students nearing completion but at-risk of dropping out and apply appropriate interventions to help them overcome their obstacles.

2017-2019 College Completion Grant

Exploration
Northcentral Technical College|$181,449|1/2017 - 11/2019
This grant supports efforts at 14 two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin to identify students nearing completion but at-risk of dropping out and apply appropriate interventions to help them overcome their obstacles.

2017-2019 College Completion Grant

Exploration
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville|$198,968|1/2017 - 11/2019
This grant supports efforts at 14 two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin to identify students nearing completion but at-risk of dropping out and apply appropriate interventions to help them overcome their obstacles.

2017-2019 College Completion Grant

Exploration
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith|$199,880|1/2017 - 11/2019
This grant supports efforts at 14 two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin to identify students nearing completion but at-risk of dropping out and apply appropriate interventions to help them overcome their obstacles.

2017-2019 College Completion Grant

Exploration
Saint Paul College|$200,000|1/2017 - 11/2019
This grant supports efforts at 14 two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin to identify students nearing completion but at-risk of dropping out and apply appropriate interventions to help them overcome their obstacles.
View All Ascendium Grants

Subscribe and Stay Connected

Get Ascendium news right to your inbox, from grant announcements and project spotlights to where you can find our program staff in the field.

Newsletter Sign Up