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EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Our philanthropy supports institutions and systems to facilitate seamless transitions between educational and career opportunities after high school.

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How We See the Problem

Leveraging workforce training systems, transferring between postsecondary providers and entering or re-entering the workforce are pivotal moments in a learner’s career or academic journey. Institutions and systems can implement policies and practices that inadvertently make these transitions difficult. For example, when curricula don’t align, or information systems are incapable of sharing data effectively, students risk losing credits, momentum and money. The jump from postsecondary education into the workforce also presents challenges, especially when institutions offer programming that does not align with the skills employers need.

Ascendium’s Approach

We support initiatives to streamline transitions via better data sharing; improving collaboration between institutions; and helping educational, workforce training and employer systems function in more complementary and effective ways to advance opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility.

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Outcomes we seek

The efforts we fund cross postsecondary and workforce landscapes. The outcomes we seek measure progress across these areas: providing learners with the information they need to understand the education landscape and take advantage of career pathways; giving learners the ability to successfully earn and transfer credits and train toward credentials that create equitable pathways to sustainable careers; and fostering collaborative efforts around data coordination between postsecondary and workforce systems with learners’ needs and goals.

How we work

We fund initiatives that help institutions streamline transitions between postsecondary education, credentialing and workforce entry. This means developing multiple pathways into training and certificates; promoting collaboration between education, non-degree credential partners and workforce systems; aligning transfers between institutions at system, state, and regional levels; and ultimately working to ensure that learners are prepared for entry into the workforce.

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarship: Jim Elliott

Scaling
Milwaukee Area Technical College|$227,500|8/2013 - 2/2023
This grant supports the Jim Elliott Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to students in apprenticeship programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Each spring, 20 apprentices with financial need receive funds (initially $1,000, increased to $1,500 in 2018) to help cover the cost of equipment, work clothes and other related expenses.

Development of a Comprehensive Transfer Blueprint

Exploration
Kent State University Foundation Inc|$1,092,414|7/2019 - 6/2022
This grant supports Kent State University in developing transfer pathways with three partner community colleges that streamline student progress to a degree.

Next Generation Sector Partnerships National Benchmarking & Rural Affinity Group

Validation
Next Gen Sector Partnerships|$408,375|1/2020 - 12/2021
This grant supports the formal analysis of the impact of the more than 80 Next Gen Sector Partnerships currently operating nationwide. The analysis will inform the codification of best practices and the development of training materials for use in the expansion of rural public and private partner networks working toward regional vitality and expanded opportunity.

Implementing Competency-Based Education at Scale

Exploration
Kentucky Community and Technical College System Foundation Inc|$613,915|6/2020 - 11/2021
This grant supports the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in developing and executing an in-depth planning process to understand the system, academic and structural changes necessary for a statewide implementation of competency-based education within its general education, career, and technical and workforce training programs.

Strengthening Guided Pathways through Workforce

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Aspen Institute Inc|$1,089,700|10/2019 - 9/2021
This grant supports The Aspen Institute in operationalizing the Ascendium-funded Workforce Playbook by engaging community college leaders in a variety of contexts through additional curricular materials and embedding the Workforce Playbook into the existing guided pathways framework.

Tackling Transfer Phase II

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Aspen Institute Inc|$1,200,000|7/2018 - 6/2021
This grant supports The Aspen Institute in helping three states—Minnesota, Texas and Virginia—adopt transfer reforms to promote bachelor’s degree attainment among students who begin at community colleges. This project will also produce learnings about the conditions and strategies for replicating or adapting comprehensive transfer reforms in other states.

Constructing a Predictive Analytic Model to Adult Learner Pathways

Exploration
The Graduate! Network Inc|$260,000|6/2020 - 5/2021
This grant supports The Graduate! Network in developing a platform-agnostic quantitative and qualitative analysis of their data to construct a predictive analytic model to further understand patterns in adult learner pathways to degree completion. The analyses produced from this project will ultimately culminate in a report that will inform institutional policies and practices to further support adult learner re-engagement strategies and increase degree completion.

Degrees When Due

Validation
Institute for Higher Education Policy|$618,000|1/2018 - 12/2020
This grant supports the Institute for Higher Education Policy in conducting the impact research component of the Degrees When Due initiative, a national effort to advance degree reclamation for the “some-college, no-degree” population. This research includes an examination of current degree reclamation strategies and student-level postsecondary and employment outcome data.

Expansion of the Promise Ecosystem Initiative and Employer Symposiums

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College Promise Campaign|$250,000|1/2020 - 12/2020
This grant supports the College Promise Campaign in the expansion of their efforts to build awareness and generate momentum for the College Promise movement across the country, with a particular focus on tying Promise programs to career and workforce development.

Text Steps Summer Melt Texting

Scaling
School District of Wisconsin Rapids|$47,870|9/2018 - 12/2020
This grant supports 13 Wisconsin public school districts in launching summer melt text nudging to help increase on-time college enrollment rates.
View All Ascendium Grants

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