Ascendium’s Board of Directors approved 18 new grants totaling $15.6 million at its December 2021 meeting. The grants support a range of work on issues including degree completion, apprenticeship strategy, postsecondary education in prison and the needs of rural learners from low-income backgrounds. All are focused on our mission of helping more people from low-income backgrounds reach their academic and career goals. Highlights of the new investments include:
- A grant to the Partnership for Education Advancement to pilot a cloud-based, always-up-to-date academic planning tool at two historically Black college and university campuses. The tool will help students more easily see the courses and requirements they need to graduate and also provide valuable course planning information for campus administrators.
- A grant to New America to explore community colleges serving as apprenticeship intermediaries. New America will survey the field to identify leading community colleges serving in this role and produce a set of actionable frameworks and recommendations for community college leaders.
- Ongoing support of the Higher Education in Prison Landscape Project, an effort of the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison (AHEP). Previous Ascendium grants to AHEP have supported creating an interactive national database, structures to gather data and analysis of data gathered. These efforts are intended to increase success for incarcerated learners by allowing programs to share data and learn from each other about what works best for this population. This new grant supports gathering student-level data in postsecondary education in prison programs in ethical, equitable ways.
- The launching of Ascendium’s multi-year Rural Postsecondary Education Research Effort. This multi-year initiative will fund numerous research projects to better understand rural learners from low-income backgrounds and strategies rural providers can use to best meet those learners’ unique needs. Ascendium will issue a request for proposals later this year for a series of action-oriented research projects.
“We’re excited about the new grants we’ve made, the new partnerships we’ve formed and the collaborations we’ve deepened,” said Amy Kerwin, Ascendium’s vice president - education philanthropy. “With the pandemic, and now with pandemic fatigue, the field has been through so much change and challenge. We’re optimistic that 2022 can be a year when practitioners, researchers, policymakers and funders strengthen their collaborations, finding new opportunities to scale what works while exploring new ways to increase equitable outcomes.”