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We’re Stronger Together

Dick George - President and CEO of Ascendium

We’re Stronger Together

As I sat down to write this letter and reflected on the year, I was struck by how little has changed as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, yet I was also struck by how much has changed. Our country’s postsecondary education and workforce training systems have been — and continue to be — forced to make extraordinary changes to the ways in which they serve students through academic and social support.

An important change since last year is our emerging sense of the toll the health crisis has had on learners from low-income backgrounds. Work from our grant partners has made clear the extent of that toll. For example, a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report series highlights declining postsecondary enrollment trends due to the health crisis, particularly for Black and Hispanic learners. Education Commission of the States found that half of the rural respondents from a recent survey indicated that COVID-19 concerns would prevent them from being able to enroll in further education.

At Ascendium, our grantmaking approach recognizes that addressing inequities requires the exploration of promising new solutions, as well as continued evidence-building in support of proven solutions as they’re expanded and scaled. To that end, our 2021 grantmaking included $119 million in grants aligned with our strategy’s four focus areas. We’re immensely grateful to our grant partners, both those familiar to us from past work and those new to us this year, for their ability to form collaborations in the development and implementation of critical work in such a challenging environment. We look forward to learning with and from them about the impact of their efforts to close equity gaps.

Now more than ever, postsecondary education is the single most effective way to enhance socioeconomic mobility. This is also why, now more than ever, we need to rely on trust, collaboration and partnership to advance equitable education and workforce training outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds. Through the strength of our work together, we have the potential to impact millions of future learners.

Richard D. George's signature

Richard D. George

Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Ascendium Education Group