Ascendium believes postsecondary education networks and membership organizations play an important role in supporting student success reforms, especially at postsecondary institutions that serve a large percentage of learners from low-income backgrounds. In July 2020, COVID-19-related financial constraints forced many organizations to consider ending their memberships or scaling back professional development. To ensure colleges, universities and nonprofits have access to these important networks, Ascendium launched the Maintain Momentum for Student Success Initiative.
The initiative provides support to postsecondary education networks and membership organizations that would otherwise lose members as financially stressed organizations drop their memberships to control costs. Maintain Momentum seeks to support organizations with members who substantially serve low-income students and students of color. To date, Ascendium has provided $6.2 million in funds to eight organizations through its Maintain Momentum initiative.
At the initiative’s one-year mark, we’re checking in with some of those organizations. This month, we’ll look at the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area and see how they’ve been able to continue their important work amid the challenges posed by the still-evolving COVID-19 health crisis.
The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area consists of 18 colleges and universities of diverse types that together serve more than 290,000 students in the Washington, D.C. metro area. They range from prestigious liberal arts institutions, including Georgetown University and Howard University, to two-year community college systems offering transfer-oriented associate degrees, as well as professional and technical education.
Andrew Flagel, Ph.D., the consortium’s president and chief executive officer, said the Maintain Momentum funds went directly toward offsetting dues for members that serve high-need students. “For some members, this was the only way they were able to sustain their membership,” he said. “One president had already called to let me know that she would have to leave the consortium. Knowing the incredible challenges she was facing, another president offered to match the Ascendium grant, together covering the full cost of membership for that institution!”
With membership stabilized by the grant, Flagel said the consortium was able to launch 15 new working groups focused on addressing issues related to the COVID-19 health crisis. “In short, Maintain Momentum’s funds catalyzed collaborative efforts that have been instrumental to reopening our regions’ postsecondary education institutions,” Flagel said. “As we continue to navigate our recovery, we are very grateful to, and look forward to continuing to partner with, Ascendium.”
Be on the lookout for more news to come on how the Maintain Momentum initiative has helped other organizations continue to keep student success reforms moving forward.