$69 Million+ in New Grants Highlighted by Investments in Job Pathways, Partnerships and More | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content


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$69 Million+ in New Grants Highlighted by Investments in Job Pathways, Partnerships and More

January 31, 2023 3-minute read

Ascendium is pleased to announce the approval of over $69 million in new grants. As ever, these grants reflect a wide range of investments in postsecondary education and workforce training. Specifically, the recently approved grants reflect a set of key strategies to improve outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds that cut across our four focus areas.

Investments in pathways that connect rural learners with good jobs.

  • A grant to the Reach Institute for School Leadership supports Reach University in building career pathways between rural community colleges and school districts in four states. This helps recent rural community college graduates earn a bachelor's degree in education within two years while being employed by a rural school district.
  • A grant to the Wakiya Foundation supports the development of new, career-aligned bachelor’s degree programs at three tribal colleges in Montana. Developed in partnership with the tribal college leaders and Western Governors University, this initiative will use labor market data to identify and fill gaps in postsecondary education around in-demand jobs for tribal learners.
  • A grant to the National Skills Coalition supports an initiative to help states implement policy and systems changes to create and strengthen partnerships between rural-based community colleges and industry. With an eye toward improving postsecondary education outcomes and providing pathways to local, in-demand jobs, this effort will document how existing partnerships have impacted the education and career success of rural learners and provide targeted technical assistance and coaching to state agencies and workforce coalitions.

Investments in high-quality postsecondary education in prison systems and capacity building.

  • A grant to past and current grantee Vera Institute of Justice supports the organization in providing technical assistance, training and advising to new and existing Second Chance Pell college sites and their state corrections system partners. This will help prepare the field for the full restoration of Pell Grants for incarcerated learners on July 1, 2023.
  • A grant to Loyola University New Orleans supports its Jesuit Prison Education Network, a nationwide coalition of Jesuit colleges housed at Loyola University, in developing best practices and sharing resources to strengthen postsecondary education in prison programs across the network.

Investments to continue building evidence and support the field in applying lessons of what works.

  • A grant to MDRC enables the organization to partner with various colleges and workforce providers to conduct research that identifies effective approaches for improving learner outcomes. MDRC will also engage in technical assistance focused on scaling evidence-based solutions.
  • A grant to the Community College Research Center (CCRC) supports CCRC in implementing a series of studies to deepen understanding of which student success reforms are working and for whom, with immediate actionability for institutions and states engaged in large-scale reform. It will also allow CCRC to update its book, “Redesigning America’s Community Colleges,” which launched the national Guided Pathways movement.

Investments to foster organizational redesign and find and remove barriers to degree completion.

  • Students who receive a D, F or W (DFW) from a course often stall out in their academic progression and may lose future financial aid eligibility. A grant to the University Innovation Alliance supports the expansion of Georgia State University’s Accelerator Academy program, which identifies DFW patterns and provides academic and non-academic supports using federal COVID-19 relief funds, to 10 member institutions.
  • A grant to the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education supports the Institute in working with cohorts of colleges with growing populations of first-generation, low-income and minoritized student populations to redesign the first-year student experience. Specifically, this initiative will work to implement evidence-based strategies focused on helping students find early success and momentum.

“These latest grants epitomize our ongoing commitment to helping learners from low-income backgrounds achieve their academic and career goals,” says Director - Education Grantmaking Keith Witham. “We are excited to learn from our grant partners as they undertake projects in service of these aims.”