Ascendium recognizes that initiatives need support at every stage in order to succeed. That’s why we invest in a range of approaches that support meaningful work in our four grantmaking focus areas, from untested ideas to promising results in need of evaluation to proven strategies. Core to our approach is a strong commitment to evidence building, as emphasized and funded through our validation grants. Validation grants support independent evaluations to build the body of evidence on reforms and innovations to inform scaling investment decisions.
We’ve been growing our research and evaluation capacity to expand our investments in validation grants that feature an impact evaluation component. Our main goal in funding such impact evaluations is to grow the number of postsecondary education and workforce training reforms and innovations backed by strong casual evidence of effectiveness. We envision this leading to improved outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds, including students of color, rural students, first-generation students, and incarcerated learners.
“Well-designed impact evaluations yield critical information for practitioners and policymakers about the effectiveness of postsecondary education and workforce training reforms and the conditions that contribute to success,” said Jessa Valentine, senior learning and impact officer at Ascendium.
Ascendium recently released Guidance for Validation Grant Applications Proposing Impact Evaluations. We designed this document to provide clarity to prospective grantees about the information we look for in applications for validation grants. In particular, it contains information about impact evaluations that include either quasi-experimental designs (QEDs) or randomized controlled trials (RCTs) paired with robust implementation studies.
Jessa is our lead team member overseeing grantmaking that builds rigorous, relevant, and useful evidence about postsecondary education and workforce training policies, practices, and programs that warrant scaling. We encourage partners who have projects that align with the guidance document to connect with Jessa via email. Jessa is also available to answer any questions about the validation grant guidance document and Ascendium’s broader validation grantmaking strategy.
“Ascendium is committed to continuing our investments in evidence building that helps convert promising innovations into proven practices, policies, and programs that meaningfully improve outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds,” said Bethany Miller, director of learning and impact at Ascendium. “Alongside the newly released guidance, Dr. Jessa Valentine is Ascendium’s resource to the research community in this important evidence agenda.”