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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

Data Fellows Program Pilot

Exploration
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities|$670,834|11/2019 - 3/2024
This grant supports the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Association for Institutional Research in piloting a Data Fellows program to improve data literacy on campus among faculty and staff. The program will foster increased use of student data to inform strategic, tactical and operational decisions, with the ultimate aim of improving student success outcomes.

Improving Higher Education Opportunities for English Learners

Exploration
WestEd|$183,000|2/2023 - 2/2024
This grant supports WestEd in examining the structural barriers faced by English Learners, a growing subpopulation of postsecondary students who disproportionately come from low income backgrounds. Information from research, policy and institutional practice will be synthesized to provide recommendations for reforming pathways that serve English Learners as they enter for-credit postsecondary degree programs.

No Holding Back: Using Data to Review and Revise Administrative Hold Policies among Public Postsecondary Institutions in the Western Region

Scaling
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education|$405,000|5/2022 - 1/2024
This grant supports the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, in partnership with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, in developing tools for institutions to use in evaluating the impact of their administrative hold policies and practices on equitable student success.

Transformational Partnership Fund

Exploration
SeaChange Capital Partners Inc|$500,000|1/2021 - 12/2023
This grant supports SeaChange Capital Partners in developing and launching the Transformational Partnership Fund, a funding vehicle that will provide postsecondary institution leaders with opportunities to explore and form long-term strategic partnerships ranging from mergers and acquisitions to administrative shared services or consolidated programs.

Strengthening Implementation of Equitable Placement Policy Reform at Community Colleges

Scaling
Campaign for College Opportunity|$650,000|12/2021 - 12/2023
This grant supports Campaign for College Opportunity in strengthening implementation of equitable math placement policy to increase student success and close racial/ethnic equity gaps for students in California.

Provosts’ Student Success Network

Exploration
American Association of State Colleges and Universities|$1,580,850|10/2019 - 7/2023
This grant supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in developing and delivering guided pathways training for Provosts at access-oriented four-year institutions. A Provosts’ Network for Student Success will create a professional network and set of curriculum equipping leaders to leverage their roles for institutional transformation.

Guided Pathways: “What and How To” Educational Series

Scaling
Teachers College, Columbia University|$1,812,945|9/2020 - 7/2023
This grant supports the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University in creating a suite of training materials designed for colleges that have not been well served by existing technical assistance providers in the guided pathways reform movement.

College Promise Careers Institute & Expanding Ecosystems for Promise Student Support

Scaling
College Promise Campaign|$250,000|7/2022 - 6/2023
This grant supports College Promise Campaign in identifying and disseminating insights about the most effective elements of College Promise programs for supporting low-income learners in key populations, including adult students, student veterans, justice-impacted students, undocumented students, parents, first-generation students, foster care students and students with disabilities.

Implementing and Evaluating Caring Campus Faculty Engagement

Validation
Institute for Evidence-Based Change|$1,729,541|11/2019 - 12/2022
This grant supports the Institute for Evidence-Based Change in cultivating caring campus environments to increase student retention. The project seeks to implement the program with faculty at 14 community colleges and allow the Community College Research Center to evaluate impact on students, faculty, staff and the institutions overall.

On the Path to a Degree (OnPath)

Scaling
MDRC|$570,300|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports MDRC in providing technical assistance to five institutions within a state community college system and five other minority-serving community colleges to assess and develop communications plans that will improve persistence and degree completion rates for students from low-income backgrounds.
View All Ascendium Grants

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