Ascendium’s Board of Directors recently approved 18 new grants totaling $18.5 million, including efforts with eight new grant partners. We welcome collaboration with CivicLab (a project of Columbus Learning Center Management Corporation), Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities (hosted at Colorado State University), Community College Research Initiatives (based at University of Washington), Complete College America, Cornell Prison Education Program, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, the Partnership for College Completion and the Urban Institute.
Among the new grants are initiatives that support campus finance leaders in advancing student success reforms, help postsecondary institutions identify successful workforce-relevant strategies for low-income learners and build the capacity of rural institutions to adopt guided pathways reforms.
The following is an overview of some new grants representing a mix of new and returning grant partners in each of Ascendium’s four focus areas:
- An initiative with the National Association of College and University Business Officers, to provide a network of equity-minded chief financial officers with tools and support in using strategic finance to embed student success reform practices on their campuses. This effort seeks to show that chief financial officers can be active leaders alongside college presidents in ensuring equitable student outcomes. Participating in this initiative is a group of schools that all serve a minimum threshold of 40% Pell-eligible students, and they'll be working on guided pathways or transfer reforms — reforms shown to specifically benefit low-income learners.
- An effort with Education Design Lab to expand the Community College Growth Engine Fund. The fund develops and delivers new market-driven educational opportunities at community colleges aimed at quickly returning out-of-work low-income learners to the workforce at or above median wages. The expansion brings Maricopa Community College and the Colorado Community College System into the effort. Ascendium joins the Beacon Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies in expanding the fund and there are additional opportunities for other funders to join the effort.
- A research project with the Urban Institute to assess a variety of workforce-aligned approaches of postsecondary institutions to see which are most critical for the success of learners from low-income backgrounds in the labor market.
- CivicLab, a project of Columbus Learning Center Management Corporation, to launch a cohort of six to eight rural community partnerships, building the capacity of rural community learning systems to improve learner-level outcomes along a talent development pathway.
- A pilot project with Cornell Prison Education Program to test its Education Justice Tracker in New York and five other states. The tracker is a digital tool allowing state departments of corrections to track incarcerated learners’ educational progress as they move between facilities.