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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Our philanthropy supports institutions and systems as they work to facilitate seamless transitions between educational and career opportunities after high school.

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How We See the Problem

Leveraging workforce training, transferring between postsecondary providers and entering or re-entering the workforce are pivotal moments in a learner’s career or academic journey. Institutions and systems can implement policies and practices that inadvertently make these transitions difficult. For example, when curricula don’t align, or information systems are incapable of sharing data effectively, students risk losing credits, momentum and money. The jump from postsecondary education into the workforce also presents challenges, especially when institutions offer programming that does not align with the skills employers need.

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Our Three Investment Priorities

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Pathways to Success for Adults with Some College but No Degree

Validation
Tennessee Board of Regents-The College System of Tennessee |$1,900,200|6/2022 - 5/2026
This grant supports the Tennessee Board of Regents in using insights from prior Ascendium-funded research to redesign the experience of adults with some college but no degree who reconnect with college. Designed as a randomized control trial, the project will evaluate how the redesign of the reconnecting semester for adults returning to community college impacts persistence, completion and time to degree.

Advancing Community College Students’ Post-Graduation Success

Exploration
The Aspen Institute Inc|$2,000,000|6/2022 - 11/2025
This grant supports The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program in supporting a cohort of 10 community colleges to implement policy and practice reforms that will increase the postgraduation success of their students, namely students of color and learners from low-income backgrounds.

Aligning Employment and Education Systems for the Success of Low-Income Working Adult Learners: The Achieve Your Degree Program

Validation
The RAND Corporation|$647,100|10/2022 - 9/2025
This grant supports The RAND Corporation in studying the design and outcomes of Ivy Tech Community College's statewide Achieve Your Degree program, which helps working learners earn skills needed to advance in their jobs through employer tuition assistance and dedicated academic and non-academic supports.

Scaling IT Support and Data Analytics Certificate Programming for Learners from Low-Income Backgrounds

Scaling
Merit America|$10,000,000|9/2022 - 8/2025
This grant supports Merit America in its goal to help 20,000 learners move from low-wage jobs to in-demand technology careers over the next three years. This investment will enable Merit America to scale their operations and leverage up to $45 million in funding from the $100 million Google Career Certificates Fund.

Enhancing and Expanding the Transfer Explorer Tool

Scaling
Ithaka Harbors Inc|$1,716,350|9/2022 - 8/2025
This grant supports Ithaka in enhancing and expanding the Transfer Explorer tool so that more transfer students have prior credits applied to a four-year degree, leading to reduced cost, reduced time-to-degree and a greater chance of completion.

Examining Faculty Decision-Making in Course Equivalency and Transfer

Validation
MDRC|$1,122,000|12/2021 - 12/2024
This grant supports MDRC in assessing faculty behavior and motivations related to course equivalency decisions, a key bottleneck in the transfer process. In partnership with the National Association of System Heads and UC Berkeley, MDRC will conduct research and analysis of faculty's role in transfer articulation processes and explore system-level policy and practice considerations which may support more effective faculty engagement.

Connected Pathways for Tribal Colleges and Universities

Exploration
Wakiya Foundation Inc|$750,000|10/2022 - 9/2024
This grant supports the Wakiya Foundation in piloting the development of new, career-aligned bachelor’s degree programs at three tribal colleges in Montana. In partnership with the tribal college leaders and Western Governors University (WGU), Wakiya will lead a process of using labor market data to identify in-demand jobs for which no postsecondary education programs currently exist for tribal learners, and to fill those gaps through offerings delivered jointly by the tribal colleges and WGU.

STEM Transfer Partnerships

Exploration
University of Washington|$1,173,375|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports the University of Washington in implementing a statewide consortium of institutional partnerships to increase successful transfer for low-income learners in STEM programs. Relying on the evidence-based framework for transfer partnerships developed by the institution's Community College Research Initiatives, this project endeavors to institutionalize collaborative partnerships at the departmental level, leading to long-term structural improvements in transfer policy and practice.

Community College Growth Engine Fund Expansion

Exploration
Education Design Lab|$995,900|10/2021 - 3/2024
This grant supports Education Design Lab (The Lab) in deploying the Community College Growth Engine Fund with two community college systems. The Lab will support the design and pilot of employer-validated micro-pathways to connect low-income learners to economic mobility.

Exploring Geographic Isolation as a Barrier to Equitable Transfer Outcomes

Exploration
The RP Group Inc|$164,900|11/2022 - 2/2024
This grant supports the RP Group in assessing the role of proximity to four-year institutions in the transfer outcomes of low-income and Latinx students in California in order to identify ways to strengthen transfer policy and practice, particularly in states with large rural areas not well served by broad access four-year institutions.
View All Ascendium Grants

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