Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training | Ascendium Education Group Skip to main content

EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training

Our philanthropy elevates rural postsecondary education and workforce training, long absent from education reform efforts.

See Grants in This Focus Area
focus area page Rural

How We See the Problem

Disparities in postsecondary success between rural students and their urban and suburban peers exist at every point in the pipeline, from enrollment to completion. These disparities contribute to a shortage of skilled, qualified workers, which affects the economic health of both families and entire communities.

Download The PDF
Rural09202x

Ascendium's Approach

An investment priority to...

Better understand rural learners and postsecondary providers through high-quality research

Means we support...

  • Providing resources and opportunities for applied research collaboration between researchers, employers, funders and postsecondary education providers
  • Increasing rural postsecondary provider ability to gather, analyze and use data and data systems

Which will lead to...

  • Identifying, completing and disseminating applied research that supports rural learners through their postsecondary education experience and entry into the workforce
  • Generating new knowledge about the impact of diverse education and training delivery models administered through and with postsecondary education providers
  • Supporting data infrastructure for cross-system data sharing, tracking and reporting among postsecondary providers

An investment priority to...

Build the capacity of rural postsecondary providers to support learners through their postsecondary experience and entry to the workforce

Means we support...

  • Expanding job training models in high-demand fields for learners in rural communities
  • Scaling effective institutional practices and policies that ensure learners complete degrees or credentials in a timely manner
  • Supporting professional development for student-centered postsecondary leaders in various roles—from front-line staff to institutional researchers to senior leadership and boards

Which will lead to...

  • Rural learners having the education and skills needed to transition to meaningful jobs in their communities and chosen careers
  • Increasing postsecondary education providers’ capacity to refine their operations to implement evidence-based practices that support academic success

An investment priority to...

Catalyze investment in and support for rural learners and providers through partnerships

Means we support...

  • Facilitating strong connections between postsecondary education providers and employers to offer high-quality postsecondary opportunities and pathways to employment
  • Communities of practice, including regional and national networks to solidify relationships between postsecondary education systems, key stakeholders and employers

Which will lead to...

  • Partnerships at the systems level that are based on postsecondary and career success to increase peer learning, network building, and best-practice sharing that highlights promising models among practitioners and partners

Grants to Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training

Training Low-Income Workers for Remote Opportunities

Exploration
The Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges|$535,000|7/2021 - 6/2024
This grant supports the Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges in building and implementing a state-wide training program designed to prepare rural Maine residents for success in remote working roles. Over three years, the program will train 700+ learners and establish the Maine Advisory Council on Remote Working.

Evaluating Digital Pathways Transformation Cohort of Rural Community Colleges

Validation
Achieving the Dream Inc|$240,000|12/2020 - 12/2023
This grant supports Achieving the Dream in building a cohort of six rural community colleges going through large-scale institutional change to prepare and increase the number of low-income learners that graduate and enter the digital economy. This grant will support the evaluation of this cohort and will build a body of evidence outlining key success factors for supporting rural community colleges and learners.

Catalyzing Rural Community Colleges Through a Design Challenge

Exploration
Education Design Lab|$1,996,925|4/2020 - 6/2023
This grant supports Education Design Lab in executing a three-year design challenge to develop and pilot new solutions to the question: “How might we improve the ability of rural community colleges to be a critical engine (or catalyst) of growth in their local communities?” Education Design Lab will partner with five rural community colleges to collaboratively structure, design, and evaluate new programs.

Building Pathways to Quality Jobs and Financial Security in Rural America

Scaling
Local Initiatives Support Corporation |$1,302,077|5/2020 - 5/2023
This grant supports 11 communities in the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Rural Works initiative, a national network of workforce intermediaries committed to modernizing and redeveloping pathways from postsecondary education and training to employment.

Researching and Awarding Excellence in Rural Community Colleges

Scaling
The Aspen Institute Inc|$2,624,131|5/2020 - 4/2023
The grant supports the Aspen Institute in researching and awarding the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and the development of a new suite of curricular resources to advance student success at rural community colleges.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Research Capacity Building Initiative

Scaling
APIA Scholars|$500,000|5/2021 - 12/2022
This grant supports Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund in building the capacity of rural Pacific Island postsecondary institutions to analyze data and use collaborative research strategies to improve their policies and practices. The initiative will increase Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander student success by developing pathways that lead to workforce participation through partnerships and institutional innovation.

Institutional Transformation in Puerto Rico: Lessons Learned in Resiliency

Validation
Excelencia in Education Inc|$399,700|10/2020 - 9/2022
This grant supports Excelencia in Education in identifying strategies that can support institutional resiliency and promote student success for rural, Latinx learners in the midst of natural disasters and crises. Excelencia will engage rural postsecondary institutions in Puerto Rico, which has experienced multiple natural disasters in recent years, and develop a report and accompanying case studies highlighting lessons learned in supporting access, retention and success for rural learners.

Facilitating Career Pathways for Low-Income Rural Students: Cooperative Extension as a Community Connector

Exploration
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities|$389,100|12/2020 - 7/2022
This grant supports the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in building, piloting, and evaluating a Rural Workforce Engagement Model that engages Cooperative Extension professionals in identifying and addressing the needs of low-income workers and employers in rural communities.

Launching West Virginia Climbs

Exploration
Philanthropy West Virginia|$750,000|6/2020 - 6/2022
This grant supports Philanthropy West Virginia’s efforts in building the infrastructure of West Virginia Climbs, a new public awareness and programming campaign aimed at increasing the state’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to at least 60 percent by 2030. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and other partners will support the implementation activities needed to complete five activities targeted at supporting learners from low-income backgrounds.

Researching Place-based Learning Experiences' Impact on Rural Postsecondary Learners

Validation
University of Montana|$221,202|6/2020 - 5/2022
This grant supports the University of Montana in researching the impact of place-based learning at postsecondary institutions on student outcomes and achievement. Building on promising research in secondary systems, rural place-based learning focuses on integrating local and regional cultures, history, and resources into school programming in an effort to promote student success and engagement.

Subscribe and Stay Connected

Get Ascendium news right to your inbox, from grant announcements and project spotlights to where you can find our program staff in the field.

Newsletter Sign Up