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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

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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.

See Grants in This Focus Area
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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

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.

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.

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.

Community Colleges as Apprenticeship Intermediaries: Learning What Works

Exploration
New America Foundation|$430,000|12/2021 - 1/2024
This grant supports New America Foundation in exploring the role of apprenticeship intermediaries. New America will conduct research to identify effective community college apprenticeship intermediaries and offer policy and practice recommendations for community colleges to scale this strategy.

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.

Hana Career Pathways in Healthcare

Exploration
University of Hawaii Foundation|$500,000|12/2020 - 12/2023
This grant supports the University of Hawaii System (UH) in developing articulated career pathways that lead from high-demand, entry-level healthcare occupations to advancement in skills, education, career and earnings. UH will develop clear career pathways and institutionalize the necessary policies and data infrastructure that provide opportunities for learners to transition from non-credit job training to credit-based degrees by leveraging apprenticeships and stackable industry-valued credentials.

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.

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