New Transformational Partnerships Fund Helps Institutions Explore Student-Centric Partnerships and Collaborations | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content


Newsletter Article March 17, 2021

New Transformational Partnerships Fund Helps Institutions Explore Student-Centric Partnerships and Collaborations

A new fund launched in March was designed to help postsecondary institutions better serve students from low-income backgrounds through the exploration of partnerships and collaborations. These partnerships could meaningfully transform how institutions operate and enhance their ability to provide reliable, high-quality educational opportunities for students. To qualify for support, institutions must serve a student population that is at least 25% students of color or where 40% of students meet the financial criteria for Pell Grant eligibility.

Institutions face many hurdles that make exploring collaboration more challenging. Overcoming those barriers is necessary if at-risk institutions are to survive and provide quality education to students who, themselves, often face significant hurdles in their education journey.

Funded in part by Ascendium, with partners ECMC Foundation, SeaChange Capital Partners and The Kresge Foundation, the Transformational Partnerships Fund (TPF) will provide:

  • A credible, confidential and safe space for eligible institutions to discuss and explore various forms of strategic partnerships.
  • Outreach to the field about best practices, as informed by a collection of materials and experience curated by SeaChange Capital Partners.
  • Assistance in identifying and providing grants to support the retention of third-party technical assistance for institutions seeking specialized expertise, such as legal, financial, governance, fundraising and human resources.
  • A visible advocate that grows and shares knowledge about the value of transformational partnerships — one that will work in conjunction with other stakeholders interested in the success of colleges and universities and are also concerned about the students they serve.

“We believe partnerships and collaboration can provide important relief for institutions who are struggling during these challenging economic times,” said Amy Kerwin, vice president – education philanthropy at Ascendium. “No college administrator wants to cut academic offerings or reduce student services. TPF allows for the exploration of alternatives, steering schools toward options that will improve the way they operate, for the benefit of students and institutions alike.”

TPF was the recent topic of a column by Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Blumenstyk predicts that if the fund is executed well, it could be “useful to a broader swath of higher ed, beyond the grantees themselves.”

According to SeaChange, those involved with the Transformational Partnerships Fund envision it serving as many as 20 pairs of institutions over the first three years, with the capacity to expand the offering if the need arises. More information on the fund can be found at

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