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Ascendium’s Grantmaking Team Strives for Impactful Change and Is Looking for Individuals Who Share this Passion

September 16, 2021 3-minute read
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portrait on Keith Whitham

Having worked for many years in organizations that benefit from smart, mission-driven philanthropy, it has been a privilege to join the Education Philanthropy team at Ascendium as deputy director of education grantmaking. As a former grant partner of Ascendium, I have long admired the clarity of Ascendium’s strategic focus on addressing the barriers that limit postsecondary success and socioeconomic mobility for learners from low-income backgrounds.

The work of Ascendium’s grant partners is needed now more than ever. As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to ravage communities across the nation, the promise of economic recovery is limited to those with postsecondary education and training. Pandemic-related job losses continue to disproportionately impact low-income adults, women and people of color, while employers are scrambling to find qualified talent for unfilled jobs in health care, education and skilled trades. Diverse, flexible, high-quality postsecondary training opportunities are the key to bridging this fundamental mismatch and to improving the livelihood of many Americans, especially those from low-income backgrounds. Ascendium strives to support the efforts of grant partners that are working on solutions to every aspect of this broad systemic challenge.

Looking Forward and Growing Our Team

My role with the Education Philanthropy team is to help us continue to critically assess these trends and refine our grantmaking to proactively identify and go after the most promising levers of impact. It’s why I was excited to come to Ascendium after years of working in research, leadership development and equity-centered community college policy and practice reform. As we approach the midway point of the five-year strategy Ascendium launched in 2019, the Education Philanthropy team is taking the opportunity to refocus the lens with which we and our partners are defining the most pressing problems and to double down on building evidence for and scaling the most promising solutions.

As we look to the impact we hope to have in the next years of our strategy, we also have a great opportunity to grow our team. We currently have three open positions on the Education Grantmaking team, in addition to an open role on our Learning and Impact team — all of which will be based in Ascendium’s Madison headquarters.

Education Grantmaking Positions

Ascendium’s senior program officers lead strategy development and execution in their focus areas and serve as national experts and thought leaders, helping to both define and design large-scale responses to the most pressing barriers for learners from low-income backgrounds. We’re looking for individuals who share a commitment to Ascendium’s mission and have experience leading impactful work in these substantive areas and/or in the craft of strategic philanthropy.

A new position for the Education Grantmaking team, the associate program officer will play a critical role in grant intake, partner engagement and planning for convenings and initiatives. For this role, we’re looking for a smart and detail-oriented generalist — someone with a commitment to our mission and some experience in education or nonprofit settings — with proven ability to work collaboratively across a wide range of mission-critical tasks.

Please help us spread the word about these great opportunities!