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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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Ascendium's Approach

An investment priority to...

Explore diverse pathways to and through postsecondary education and workforce training

Means we support...

  • Identifying, validating and scaling high-quality, nontraditional postsecondary education and training models, such as apprenticeships, career pathways, short term credentials and competency-based education
  • Promoting collaboration between postsecondary education and non-degree providers

Which will lead to...

  • Increasing learners’ understanding of the credentialing landscape and equitable pathways to careers
  • Increasing learner completion of nontraditional postsecondary education and training that enhance their readiness and access to employment, sustainable career pathways and additional education
  • Recognition from the traditional academe of high-quality, non-degree credentials and training, resulting in accessible and equitable pathways to additional education and careers

An investment priority to...

Ease transitions between, and returning to, postsecondary providers

Means we support...

  • Reforming policy and practice to improve transfer and application of credit at system, state and regional levels
  • Supporting effective strategies to reengage adult learners with some college, but no degree

Which will lead to...

  • Learners with some college but no degree re-enrolling and earning a high-quality credential
  • Increasing the number of learners who successfully move between education providers without losing credit, slowing momentum or delaying credential completion

An investment priority to...

Smooth transitions between postsecondary education and the workforce

Means we support...

  • Promoting postsecondary alignment and collaboration with workforce and economic development
  • Expanding data infrastructure and information sharing between postsecondary education providers and the workforce
  • Scaling effective institutional policies and practices that promote successful job placement leading to socioeconomic mobility

Which will lead to...

  • Postsecondary and workforce systems sharing data to provide learners with relevant education that meets economic and workforce needs and learners’ goals
  • Postsecondary institutions demonstrating commitment to learners’ career outcomes

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

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.

Michigan Community College Workforce and Transfer Alignment

Scaling
Michigan Community College Association|$800,000|12/2020 - 12/2023
This grant supports the Michigan Community College Association in improving equitable access to and through community college workforce programs for low-income learners statewide by improving program alignment with industry certifications, building new baccalaureate transfer pathways with universities and strengthening advising practices related to both transfer and career outcomes.

Expansion of the Good Jobs Project

Validation
Georgetown University|$450,000|11/2021 - 10/2023
This grant supports the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in mapping economic opportunity by identifying where good jobs exist in urban and rural regions and establishing the most reliable educational and training pathways to those jobs. This analysis will expand on existing research by contextualizing opportunities to locale and enabling education and workforce providers to align programs with existing and projected labor demand.

HBCU Degree Completion Pilot

Exploration
Thurgood Marshall College Fund Inc|$290,950|9/2020 - 8/2023
This grant supports the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in piloting an online college degree completion program for near-completer students at member HBCU Delaware State University in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.

Establishing a Data Use Challenge to Inform Education & Workforce Transitions

Scaling
Coleridge Initiative Inc|$900,000|10/2021 - 7/2023
This grant supports Coleridge Initiative in developing and launching a data use challenge and call for proposals to solicit data-driven ideas that inform education and workforce transitions. Ascendium will select individual data challenge projects to support from a set of proposals submitted by Coleridge Initiative during the grant period. The selected projects will link education and workforce data, provide states the relevant data analysis capacity to answer critical questions about student progression, and inform evidence-based policies and practices that support learners from low-income backgrounds.

Accelerating Transfer Reform

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,518,000|7/2021 - 6/2023
This grant supports The Aspen Institute in accelerating transfer reform nationally by activating two- and four-year college leaders and leveraging networks to implement lasting institutional change. This project will scale the adoption of effective practices aimed at improving transfer success for learners from low-income backgrounds.

Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarship: Jim Elliott

Scaling
Milwaukee Area Technical College|$257,500|8/2013 - 4/2023
This grant supports the Jim Elliott Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to students in apprenticeship programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Each spring, 20 apprentices with financial need receive funds (initially $1,000, increased to $1,500 in 2018) to help cover the cost of equipment, work clothes and other related expenses.

Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarships

Scaling
Wisconsin Technical College System|$1,260,000|8/2020 - 4/2023
This grant supports the Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to construction and industrial trade apprentices attending a Wisconsin Technical College System college. Each spring, 230 apprentices with financial need receive funds to help cover the cost of equipment, work clothes and other related expenses.

Building Stackable Credential Pipelines that Support Equity and Provide Pathways

Validation
The RAND Corporation|$483,900|10/2021 - 3/2023
This grant supports RAND Corporation in examining stackable credential pipelines in two states to determine whether learners from low-income backgrounds benefit from stackable credentials, whether they face barriers in accessing these pathways and which institutional and system level policies and programs strengthen equity. The goal is to inform efforts within the two states and nationally to build effective and equitable stackable credential pipelines for learners from low-income backgrounds.

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