While Ascendium’s philanthropic mission as a national funder focuses on the power of education and training beyond high school to transform the lives of learners from low-income backgrounds, we recognize the importance of flexibility and responsiveness in times of crisis and needs in the community in which the majority of our employees live and work. 2020 was an extraordinary year that brought big challenges for the Madison-area community across both racial justice issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, and we stepped up our local giving to help address these challenges.
- In March, Ascendium donated $85,000 to the Dane County COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Fund, a collaborative community-led effort to provide financial relief for individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In June, Ascendium saw an opportunity to advance the work of local nonprofits addressing racial and social justice in Madison. We asked our employees to nominate organizations actively making a difference and awarded $50,000 each to four Madison-area nonprofits that provide an identifiable and meaningful response to address racial justice in our community.
- In November, Ascendium tripled the impact of the funds pledged by employees during our United Way campaign by awarding a $3-to-$1 gift to the Vera Court Neighborhood Center, a nonprofit located near our office that our employees chose to “adopt.” Over the last three years, the Ascendium team has developed a deep partnership with our adopted organization, donating school supplies, installing computers, running a pro bono legal clinic and volunteering.
- While much of our local giving has focused on meeting existing needs during a turbulent year, we’re excited to look to the future. To that end, we awarded $100,000 to the United Way of Dane County to support education initiatives for local learners during 2021.
- In addition to providing financial support to local non-profits, Ascendium encourages our team to donate their time and talent to support them, both through eight hours of annual paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) and on their own through our Beyond VTO program. During 2020, the Ascendium team has donated more than 5,600 hours to support local nonprofits.
“The focus of our grantmaking is national, but most of our employees live and work in Madison,” said Vice President - Education Philanthropy Amy Kerwin. “We are deeply grateful to the nonprofit organizations who work every day to meet the needs of our local community and are pleased to support their efforts.”