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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Streamline Key Learner Transitions

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

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How We See the Problem

Leveraging workforce training systems, 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 technical education and workforce training

Means we support...

  • Identifying, validating and scaling high-quality career and technical credentials, training and certificates
  • Promoting collaboration between postsecondary education systems and non-degree credential providers

Which will lead to...

  • Learners understanding the credentialing landscape and viable pathways to careers
  • Learners earning career and technical credentials that enhance their readiness and access to employment, sustainable career pathways and additional postsecondary education
  • The traditional academy recognizing high-quality workforce training and technical credentials, resulting in accessible and equitable pathways to careers

An investment priority to...

Ease transitions between, and returning to, postsecondary providers

Means we support...

  • Identifying and scaling high-quality prior learning assessment policies and practices that provide equitable on-ramps to postsecondary education
  • Improving alignment and application of transfer/reverse transfer policy and practice, and supporting infrastructure collaboration for new transfer pathways at system, state and regional levels
  • Diversifying reengagement strategies

Which will lead to...

  • “Potential completers” with some college/no degree re-enrolling to complete a degree or high-quality credential that leads to meaningful employment
  • Learners accumulating and transferring credits into a program of study that leads to a timely degree or credential without excess credits

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 ensure learners are prepared for workforce transition

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
  • Institutions demonstrating commitment to career development and readiness

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Redesigning StudentTracker

Scaling
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center|$1,343,000|5/2020 - 12/2021
This grant supports the National Student Clearinghouse in rebuilding StudentTracker, the primary data platform used by educational systems and institutions to track student-level postsecondary enrollment in the United States. The new StudentTracker will reduce the technological expertise required for users, consolidate data into a single platform, and provide enhanced reports and visualized analytics, with the goal of significantly expanding access and utilization nationwide.

Pathways to Success for Students with Some College No Degree

Validation
Tennessee Board of Regents-The College System of Tennessee |$225,000|10/2020 - 12/2021
This grant supports the Tennessee Board of Regents - The College System of Tennessee in researching pathways to success for adult students with some college credit but no degree. This project will identify the various supports necessary to increase success for adults who return to college.

Next Generation Sector Partnerships National Benchmarking & Rural Affinity Group

Validation
Next Gen Sector Partnerships|$408,375|1/2020 - 12/2021
This grant supports Next Gen Sector Partnerships in creating a formal analysis of the impact of the more than 80 Next Gen Sector Partnerships currently operating nationwide. The analysis will inform the codification of best practices and the development of training materials for use in the expansion of rural public and private partner networks working toward regional vitality and expanded opportunity.

Degrees When Due

Validation
Institute for Higher Education Policy|$618,000|1/2018 - 12/2021
This grant supports the Institute for Higher Education Policy in conducting the impact research component of the Degrees When Due initiative, a national effort to advance degree reclamation for the “some-college, no-degree” population. This research includes an examination of current degree reclamation strategies and student-level postsecondary and employment outcome data.

The Future of Associates Degree for Transfer in LA

Exploration
UNITE-LA Inc|$115,400|12/2020 - 12/2021
This grant supports UNITE-LA in convening Los Angeles Community College District and California State University leaders in a focused, facilitated planning process to craft action plans to improve the effectiveness of Associates Degree for Transfer pathways for low-income students in the region.

Implementing Competency-Based Education at Scale

Exploration
Kentucky Community and Technical College System Foundation Inc|$613,915|6/2020 - 11/2021
This grant supports the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in developing and executing an in-depth planning process to understand the system, academic and structural changes necessary for a statewide implementation of competency-based education within its general education, career, and technical and workforce training programs.

Supporting a Multi-State Education-Workforce Data Infrastructure

Scaling
Coleridge Initiative Inc|$500,000|9/2020 - 8/2021
This grant supports the Coleridge Initiative in developing and delivering training classes for two states to build capacity for state education and workforce agencies in the use of data to improve education and workforce transitions. The Coleridge Initiative will partner with state-based public policy staff and college-based data science programs within each state to develop curricula, deliver ongoing applied data training to state agency staff and build new analytical products to inform the design and development of effective education and training policy and practice.

HBCU Degree Completion Pilot

Exploration
Delaware State University Foundation Inc|$216,200|9/2020 - 8/2021
This grant supports the Delaware State University Foundation in piloting an online college degree completion program for near-completer students in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University and Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Tackling Transfer Phase II

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,200,000|7/2018 - 8/2021
This grant supports the Aspen Institute in helping three states—Minnesota, Texas and Virginia—adopt transfer reforms to promote bachelor’s degree attainment among students who begin at community colleges. This project will also produce learnings about the conditions and strategies for replicating or adapting comprehensive transfer reforms in other states.

Text Steps Summer Melt Texting Initiative

Scaling
National College Attainment Network|$32,000|1/2021 - 6/2021
This grant supports National College Attainment Network (NCAN) in amplifying the impact and reach of Text Steps, a Wisconsin-based initiative funded by Ascendium since 2018. The goal of Text Steps- to reduce summer melt for low-income high school graduates-is of strategic interest to NCAN and its membership, and NCAN is well positioned to leverage the lessons learned by Ascendium’s grantees with their national audience.
View All Ascendium Grants

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