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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

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2021 Education Philanthropy Report

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

Scaling Community College Partnerships to Expand Access to Technology Careers

Scaling
Generation USA|$1,000,000|5/2021 - 11/2022
This grant supports Generation USA in expanding their proven model of supporting learners from low-income backgrounds in accessing quality technology training that leads to upward socioeconomic mobility and careers through community college partnerships. Over the course of 18 months, Generation USA will test three types of partnerships with community colleges with a goal to successfully scale their model.

Redesigning StudentTracker

Scaling
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center|$1,343,000|5/2020 - 10/2022
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.

Career Advising Tools and Outreach for Low-Income College Graduates-Planning Phase

Exploration
The Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia|$284,300|12/2020 - 6/2022
This grant supports the University of Virginia in developing a personalized job recommendation tool and intrusive advising resources designed to improve employment outcomes for low-income community college graduates.

College Promise Careers Institute & Expanding Ecosystems for Promise Student Support

Scaling
College Promise Campaign|$250,000|7/2021 - 6/2022
This grant supports the College Promise Campaign in expanding their efforts to build awareness of supports for specific College Promise student populations and their work focused on elevating the role of postsecondary education in addressing workforce and economic development needs.

Creating Pathways to Mid-Level Tech Careers and Educational Opportunity

Exploration
Apprenti|$150,000|5/2021 - 6/2022
This grant supports Apprenti in determining the viability of a formal partnership with a four-year degree granting institution for the purpose of providing a pathway to a bachelor's degree for low-income and underrepresented learners who complete registered technology apprenticeships.

Assessing Training Success through Place-Based and Geographic-Agnostic Program Models

Scaling
Merit America|$837,000|5/2021 - 5/2022
This grant supports Merit America in testing service delivery models for learners engaged in place-based programs and those engaged in geographic-agnostic programs to compare learner completion and job placement outcomes and inform plans for scale.

Supporting a Multi-State Education-Workforce Data Infrastructure

Scaling
Coleridge Initiative Inc|$550,348|9/2020 - 3/2022
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.

Strengthening Guided Pathways through Workforce

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,089,700|10/2019 - 3/2022
This grant supports the Aspen Institute in operationalizing the Ascendium-funded Workforce Playbook by engaging community college leaders in a variety of contexts through additional curricular materials and embedding the Workforce Playbook into the existing guided pathways framework.

Degrees When Due

Validation
Institute for Higher Education Policy|$618,000|1/2018 - 3/2022
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.

Implementing Competency-Based Education at Scale

Exploration
Kentucky Community and Technical College System Foundation Inc|$613,915|6/2020 - 2/2022
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.
View All Ascendium Grants

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