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Streamline Key Learner Transitions

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

A young woman training in a server room.

How We See the Problem

Leveraging workforce training, 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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Our Three Investment Priorities

Grants to Streamline Key Learner Transitions

Strategies to Support Holistic Credit Mobility

Ithaka Harbors Inc|$1,220,400|3/2024 - 8/2026
This grant supports Ithaka S+R in identifying and documenting learning from postsecondary institutions that are implementing strategies to recognize and apply credits as learners move across educational settings. Ithaka S+R will facilitate peer learning and develop resources to help institutions in better supporting learner and credit mobility, thereby saving learners time and money and increasing their chances of success.

Supporting Expansion of a Jobs-First Higher Education Model in Healthcare

Propel America|$750,000|7/2023 - 6/2026
This grant supports Propel America in preparing for growth of its short-term, credit-bearing training that leads to an industry-validated credential and employment in healthcare jobs for young adults from low-income backgrounds without a postsecondary degree.

Pathways to Success for Adults with Some College but No Degree

Tennessee Board of Regents-The College System of Tennessee |$2,124,700|6/2022 - 5/2026
This grant supports the Tennessee Board of Regents in using insights from prior Ascendium-funded research to redesign the experience of adults with some college but no degree who reconnect with college. Designed as a randomized control trial, the project will evaluate how the redesign of the reconnecting semester for adults returning to community college impacts persistence, completion and time to degree.

The Transfer Intensive 2.0

The Aspen Institute Inc|$2,600,000|11/2023 - 4/2026
This grant supports the Aspen Institute in expanding the Transfer Intensive, which provides structured support to two- and four-year institutions that are partnering to ensure students can more easily transfer between their institutions without loss of credit. The expansion will include two new cohorts of participating colleges and enable tracking of student outcomes at institutions that participated in prior cohorts.

Fueling Growth Through Innovation

Per Scholas Inc|$6,000,000|12/2022 - 12/2025
This grant supports Per Scholas in bringing to scale their technology workforce training and professional development model to tens of thousands more learners and hundreds more employer partners throughout the U.S. Ascendium’s investment will support Per Scholas in their efforts to build new partnerships to better reach learners, deepen its bench of highly-qualified instructors and redesign its recruitment and admissions processes to be more learner friendly.

Innovation and Expansion of Accelerated Training and Shared Outcomes Model

Year Up Inc|$4,500,000|12/2022 - 12/2025
This grant supports Year Up in launching a new Google Career Certificates training program in two locations—Austin, Texas, and Seattle, Washington—as a complement to its traditional one-year, tuition-free training model. Year Up will pilot the Google Career Certificates training, combined with a shared outcomes financing plan, and assess the potential of the model for scaling to reach more learners.

Advancing Community College Students’ Post-Graduation Success

The Aspen Institute Inc|$2,000,000|6/2022 - 11/2025
This grant supports The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program in supporting a cohort of 10 community colleges to implement policy and practice reforms that will increase the postgraduation success of their students, namely students of color and learners from low-income backgrounds.

Transformation of the Postsecondary Landscape

Education Design Lab|$5,478,600|11/2023 - 10/2025
This grant supports Education Design Lab in strengthening the ability of colleges and states to better meet the needs of learners from low-income backgrounds — especially adult, parent, and working learners — through high-quality, workforce aligned training pathways. Grant-funded projects will specifically focus on strengthening capacity in rural community colleges to design and implement new pathways.

Learner and Employment Record Demonstration Project

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc|$1,000,000|11/2023 - 10/2025
This grant supports Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in launching a pooled funding initiative that will seed up to eight pilot projects to demonstrate the use of digital Learning and Employment Records (LERs). Funded projects will explore how LERs can support upward mobility by giving learners tools to collect, validate, and communicate their learning and work experiences.

Aligning Employment and Education Systems for the Success of Low-Income Working Adult Learners: The Achieve Your Degree Program

The RAND Corporation|$647,100|10/2022 - 9/2025
This grant supports The RAND Corporation in studying the design and outcomes of Ivy Tech Community College's statewide Achieve Your Degree program, which helps working learners earn skills needed to advance in their jobs through employer tuition assistance and dedicated academic and non-academic supports.
View All Ascendium Grants