Grantmaking Strategy | Ascendium’s Education Philanthropy Skip to main content

Grantmaking Strategy

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Grantmaking Strategy

Our grantmaking strategy focuses on driving systemic change that results in more equitable postsecondary education and workforce training outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds. We’re dedicated to addressing barriers to success that limit socioeconomic mobility for learners who are first-generation students, rural community members, veterans, students of color and incarcerated adults.

Our Grantmaking Process

We believe our grant partners’ time and resources are best spent focused on their primary work — not on completing complex grant applications and report templates. To that end, we challenged ourselves to provide increased clarity and transparency about what we fund and why. We’re grateful to the grant partners who responded to our request for feedback on how we fund and are excited to introduce a refined process in early 2022.

Our Funding Approach

Our three-pronged funding approach gives innovators the space to explore untested approaches and gives researchers the time to validate emerging best practices. It also facilitates the scaling of evidence-based approaches that can lead to changes at institutions, in systems and, ultimately, in the experiences and outcomes of learners. Exploration grants support limited-term projects designed to help us and our partners learn more about promising innovations. Validation grants support research and evaluations to help build the body of evidence to support ideas that merit acceptance as standard practice. Scaling grants support the widespread adoption of successful, evidence-based approaches leading to meaningful systemic transformation.

We are committed to being open and transparent about our grantmaking strategy and the grants we have made. For more information and a comprehensive list of our grants, visit ascendiumphilanthropy.org.

Grantmaking Through Our Strategic Framework

Our strategic framework is designed to focus our grantmaking in key areas so that more learners from low-income backgrounds can succeed. Investment priorities in each focus area guide the grants we make and the impact we hope will be achieved.

Our Focus Areas

Remove Structural Barriers to Success
Reduces or eliminates institutional or systemic barriers for learners from low-income backgrounds, especially in underrepresented groups.
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Streamline Key Learner Transitions
Supports efforts that streamline transitions through better data sharing, improved collaboration and more effective postsecondary education and workforce training systems.
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Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison
Addresses barriers facing currently incarcerated adults who don’t have equitable access to high-quality postsecondary education.
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Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training
Supports efforts to better understand rural learners and postsecondary providers so that more rural learners from low-income backgrounds can meet their goals.
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Field Support And Development

We also make grants to organizations doing work that cuts across our four focus areas. These grants support collaboration and information sharing through practitioner professional development, seed funding for innovative ideas and strategic media partnerships.

Remove Structural Barriers to Success