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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Our philanthropy focuses on reducing or eliminating institutional and systemic barriers for underrepresented postsecondary education learners so they can achieve their academic and career goals.

Students from low incomes learn on laptops.

How We See the Problem

Today’s learners often aren’t well served by the educational systems that were built years ago for more traditional students. Now students are often older, more diverse, working one or more jobs, raising families, and struggling to make ends meet.

Colleges and universities are complex, and often don’t have a student-centric approach to course offerings or availability, advising and other institutional policies. The problem shows in the equity gaps in completion rates: just 11% of low-income students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Almost 6 times as many students — 58% overall — from higher-income households graduate.

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Our Three Investment Priorities

Grants to Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Academic Planning Tool Pilot

Exploration
Partnership for Education Advancement|$1,417,900|12/2021 - 12/2024
This grant supports Partnership for Education Advancement in bolstering college capacity to plan for, successfully implement and evaluate the use of academic planning technology to help students map a clear path to courses needed for degree completion. In addition to decreasing excess credit accumulation and speeding time to degree for students, the project will help institutions calculate the return on their investment in this type of technology.

Fast Track to Success? A Mixed Methods Study of Accelerated Course Formats

Validation
Evaluation and Assessment Solutions for Education LLC|$160,800|12/2022 - 11/2024
This grant supports Evaluation and Assessment Solutions for Education LLC in better understanding the impact of accelerated courses on the academic success of students from low-income and other non-traditional backgrounds.

Fast Track to Success? A Mixed Methods Study of Accelerated Course Formats

Validation
Tennessee Board of Regents-The College System of Tennessee |$573,500|12/2022 - 11/2024
This grant supports the Tennessee Board of Regents in partnering with Stanford University researchers to better understand the impact of accelerated courses on students from low-income and other non-traditional backgrounds.

Equity and Policy Alignment to Drive Student Graduation Rates and Close Attainment Gaps

Exploration
Complete College America Inc|$1,750,000|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports Complete College America in building capacity for networks of institutions to implement equity-centered completion policies and practices.

Exploring Field-Driven Placement Innovation to Promote Student Success

Exploration
Phase Two Advisory|$661,900|3/2023 - 8/2024
This grant supports Phase Two Advisory in exploring how innovative community colleges’ implementation of placement reforms may contribute to comprehensive changes in student instruction, advising and supports in the first year. This exploratory research will identify and document strategies to ensure placement reforms reach all students and are institutionalized into college structures and norms.

Curricular Analytics

Validation
Colorado State University|$1,997,600|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities, hosted at Colorado State University, in validating the relationship between curricular structure and equitable student outcomes. A network of national senior leaders will collaborate to develop and test strategies for using their institutional data to engage faculty in revising university curriculum.

NACUBO Strategically Financing Structures to Remove Barriers

Exploration
National Association of College and University Business Officers|$2,999,100|9/2021 - 8/2024
This grant supports the National Association of College and University Business Officers in creating a network of postsecondary leaders equipped to transform their institutions through strategic finance. The project will produce frameworks, tools and models that will change how colleges analyze, prioritize and fund their initiatives committed to equitable student outcomes.

Community College Doctoral Program Redesign

Exploration
University of Maryland Global Campus|$825,825|6/2020 - 5/2024
This grant supports the University of Maryland Global Campus in developing a new doctoral program in community college leadership. The program curriculum will be comprehensive and innovative, designed in collaboration with influential community college stakeholders and thought leaders.

Governing Board Success Academy

Exploration
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education|$2,078,900|10/2020 - 5/2024
This grant supports the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, in partnership with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, in providing professional development to governing boards on prioritizing equitable student success through practice, policy and budget oversight.

2023 Aspen Prize and New Student Outcomes Data Benchmarking Tool

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,200,000|4/2022 - 3/2024
This grant supports the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program in awarding the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and developing a set of data tools, benchmarks and resources to expand adoption of core student success practices related to community college excellence. This grant will support broader field use and engagement with metrics, enabling colleges to benchmark their progress and set institutional reform goals accordingly.

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