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Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training

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

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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.

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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
  • Investing in high quality research to inform the field
  • Increasing rural postsecondary provider ability to gather, analyze and use data and data systems

Which will lead to...

  • Identifying, completing, and disseminating applied research supporting rural learners
  • Understanding postsecondary access and attainment in the context of career and community outcomes
  • Exploring diverse education and training delivery models administered through and with postsecondary 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 from enrollment to workforce entry

Means we support...

  • Expanding job training models in high-demand fields for learners in rural communities
  • Postsecondary programs of study aligning with the geographic, economic, and cultural needs and assets of rural communities
  • Increasing student supports designed to help rural learners navigate postsecondary providers and workforce entry
  • 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 rural learners’ ability to navigate postsecondary enrollment, completion and workforce entry
  • Increasing postsecondary providers’ capacity and ability to implement best practice, data-based models to support academic success
  • Supporting postsecondary providers in refining their processes and operations to better support rural learners

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
  • Solidifying relationships between secondary systems, postsecondary providers and employers through regional and national networks
  • Supporting communities of practice tailored toward postsecondary providers, employers and learners

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

Supporting Rural Island-Based Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Students

Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund|$144,400|5/2020 - 10/2020
This grant supports Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund in preparing for a comprehensive mixed-method study focused on rural Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students and the rural institutions serving them.

Improving Workforce Outcomes for Community College Students

Social Finance|$180,000|2/2020 - 7/2020
This grant supports Social Finance in assessing strategies and approaches that workforce entities (including employers and workforce training providers) have used to establish successful partnerships with community colleges. The goals of this project are to identify effective strategies for developing employer partnerships that lead to long-term success for community college students, explore opportunities for sustainable and performance-based funding models for these partnerships and to highlight best practices and lessons for rural communities.

Rural Postsecondary Education Project

R Street Institute|$50,000|5/2019 - 3/2020
This grant supports R Street Institute in conducting a rural postsecondary education and workforce landscape scan, highlighting relevant data, funders and programmatic efforts.

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