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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

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.

Advancing Outcomes Research on Postsecondary Competency-Based Education Pathways

Exploration
American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences|$237,200|6/2022 - 5/2023
This grant supports American Institutes for Research in developing a typology of competency-based education program design features. They will also develop an evaluation plan using the typology to research the impact of key design features and outcomes 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|$1,539,000|8/2020 - 4/2023
<div class="form-text" style=""><p>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, apprentices with financial need receive funds to help cover the cost of equipment, work clothes and other related expenses.</p></div>

Building Stackable Credential Pipelines that Support Equity and Provide Pathways

Validation
The RAND Corporation|$483,900|10/2021 - 3/2023
This grant supports The 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.

Workforce Aligned Postsecondary Education: Understanding the Way Forward

Validation
Urban Institute |$990,000|9/2021 - 3/2023
This grant supports the Urban Institute in assessing which workforce-aligned approaches of postsecondary education institutions are most critical for the success of learners from low-income backgrounds in the labor market. The Urban Institute will conduct a multi-faceted research project, including a return on investment analysis that will ultimately provide information on promising and effective programs, policies, resources and strategies that support success for learners.

Development of a Comprehensive Transfer Blueprint

Exploration
Kent State University Foundation Inc|$1,092,414|7/2019 - 12/2022
This grant supports Kent State University in developing transfer pathways with three partner community colleges that streamline student progress to a degree.

Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance

Scaling
Midwestern Higher Education Compact|$1,280,400|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and Credential Engine in developing the Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance. Intensive work in five states and regional coordination across the 12-state region will contribute to significantly expanding the public repository of detailed, accurate information about postsecondary credentials available to learners, employers, schools and state agencies.
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