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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.

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Ascendium's Approach

An investment priority to...

Explore diverse pathways to technical education and workforce training

Means we support...

  • Identifying, validating and scaling high-quality career and technical credentials, training and certificates
  • Promoting collaboration between postsecondary education systems and non-degree credential providers

Which will lead to...

  • Learners understanding the credentialing landscape and viable pathways to careers
  • Learners earning career and technical credentials that enhance their readiness and access to employment, sustainable career pathways and additional postsecondary education
  • The traditional academy recognizing high-quality workforce training and technical credentials, resulting in accessible and equitable pathways to careers

An investment priority to...

Ease transitions between, and returning to, postsecondary providers

Means we support...

  • Identifying and scaling high-quality prior learning assessment policies and practices that provide equitable on-ramps to postsecondary education
  • Improving alignment and application of transfer/reverse transfer policy and practice, and supporting infrastructure collaboration for new transfer pathways at system, state and regional levels
  • Diversifying reengagement strategies

Which will lead to...

  • “Potential completers” with some college/no degree re-enrolling to complete a degree or high-quality credential that leads to meaningful employment
  • Learners accumulating and transferring credits into a program of study that leads to a timely degree or credential without excess credits

An investment priority to...

Smooth transitions between postsecondary education and the workforce

Means we support...

  • Promoting postsecondary alignment and collaboration with workforce and economic development
  • Expanding data infrastructure and information sharing between postsecondary education providers and the workforce
  • Scaling effective institutional policies and practices that ensure learners are prepared for workforce transition

Which will lead to...

  • Postsecondary and workforce systems sharing data to provide learners with relevant education that meets economic and workforce needs and learners’ goals
  • Institutions demonstrating commitment to career development and readiness

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Michigan Community College Workforce and Transfer Alignment

Scaling
Michigan Community College Association|$800,000|12/2020 - 12/2023
This grant supports the Michigan Community College Association in improving equitable access to and through community college workforce programs for low-income learners statewide by improving program alignment with industry certifications, building new baccalaureate transfer pathways with universities and strengthening advising practices related to both transfer and career outcomes.

HBCU Degree Completion Pilot

Exploration
Thurgood Marshall College Fund Inc|$290,950|9/2020 - 8/2023
This grant supports the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in piloting an online college degree completion program for near-completer students at member HBCU Delaware State University in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.

Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarships

Scaling
Wisconsin Technical College System|$1,035,000|8/2020 - 4/2023
This grant supports the Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to construction and industrial trade apprentices attending a Wisconsin Technical College System college. Each spring, 230 apprentices with financial need receive funds to help cover the cost of equipment, work clothes and other related expenses.

Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarship: Jim Elliott

Scaling
Milwaukee Area Technical College|$257,500|8/2013 - 4/2023
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.

Hana Career Pathways in Healthcare

Exploration
University of Hawaii Foundation|$500,000|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports the University of Hawaii System (UH) in developing articulated career pathways that lead from high-demand, entry-level healthcare occupations to advancement in skills, education, career and earnings. UH will develop clear career pathways and institutionalize the necessary policies and data infrastructure that provide opportunities for learners to transition from non-credit job training to credit-based degrees by leveraging apprenticeships and stackable industry-valued credentials.

Development of a Comprehensive Transfer Blueprint

Exploration
Kent State University Foundation Inc|$1,092,414|7/2019 - 12/2022
This grant supports Kent State University in developing transfer pathways with three partner community colleges that streamline student progress to a degree.

Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance

Scaling
Midwestern Higher Education Compact|$1,280,400|12/2020 - 12/2022
This grant supports the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and Credential Engine in developing the Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance. Intensive work in five states and regional coordination across the 12-state region will contribute to significantly expanding the public repository of detailed, accurate information about postsecondary credentials available to learners, employers, schools, and state agencies.

Equity Transfer Initiative

Exploration
American Association of Community Colleges|$1,000,000|10/2020 - 9/2022
This grant supports the American Association of Community Colleges in increasing equitable student transfer outcomes. In partnership with the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Equity Transfer Initiative will provide direct coaching, technical assistance, and ongoing support to selected pairs of two- and four-year institutions as they develop new transfer pathways for degrees leading to high-demand careers.

Career Advising Tools and Outreach for Low-Income College Graduates - Planning Phase

Exploration
The Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia|$284,300|12/2020 - 6/2022
This grant supports the University of Virginia in developing a personalized job recommendation tool and intrusive advising resources designed to improve employment outcomes for low-income community college graduates.

Strengthening Guided Pathways through Workforce

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$1,089,700|10/2019 - 3/2022
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.
View All Ascendium Grants

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