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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Our philanthropy focuses on reducing or eliminating barriers for underrepresented students in postsecondary education systems and institutions, so that they can achieve their academic and career goals.

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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.

Ascendium’s Approach

We support efforts identifying replicable changes to policies and practices that can dismantle unnecessary obstacles at the system and institutional levels. When we address the problem at its root, instead of one learner at a time, we hope to help institutions boost completion rates and shorten the time it takes learners to get credentialed—so that low-income learners have the same opportunities for academic and career success.

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Outcomes We Seek

Our system-level funding fuels system-level outcomes we hope to achieve. By fostering leadership development across a spectrum of roles; we seek to prioritize student success and institutional change. We hope to help institutions and systems understand the financial impact of student success reforms, including adopting developmental education reform at scale to ensure learners are taking credit-bearing courses in their first year; ensuring more students enroll and complete gateway courses in their first year; prioritizing course availability so learners can enroll in courses they need when they need them; supporting entering learners’ end goals by helping them choose and enter a pathway; and helping institutions support learners through a strong advising process.

How we work

We fund initiatives that help remove barriers to student success. This means professional development for student-centered, postsecondary leaders in various roles, from front-line staff to institutional research staff to senior leadership and boards. It also means the refinement of institutional policies and practices to better set learners up for success and funding of efforts to support timely progression to their degree or credential.

Grants to Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Completion Grant Replication Project

Scaling
Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities|$250,500|8/2015 - 10/2018
This grant supports the replication of the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities completion grant project.

Multiple Measures Assessment

Exploration
MDRC|$980,500|9/2016 - 9/2018
This grant supports MDRC in assisting Wisconsin and Minnesota colleges in the selection and implementation of state-specific multiple measures assessment systems to improve completion rates and reduce time and cost to degree.

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning

Scaling
University of Wisconsin-Madison|$3,207,555|9/2014 - 8/2018
This grant supports a network of 22 research universities to successfully bring Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning to full operation.

Wisconsin HOPE Lab

Exploration
University of Wisconsin-Madison|$2,500,000|9/2013 - 8/2018
This grant supports the development of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nations first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education.

Scaling Statway and Quantway

Scaling
WestEd|$1,500,000|7/2015 - 6/2018
This grants support efforts to bring Quantway and Statway, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's remedial math pathways, to scale across the nation.
View All Ascendium Grants

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