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Remove Structural Barriers to Success

We want to see an educational system that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed. At Ascendium, we continue to prioritize investing in the widespread adoption of evidence-based institutional and system policies and practices that drive equitable opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility. The urgency of this work has been further driven home by the COVID-19 health crisis, which has disproportionately impacted learners from low-income backgrounds and deepened existing disparities in opportunity and achievement.

Over the past year, we’ve been focused on funding opportunities that respond to the immediate challenges of postsecondary systems, institutions and the learners they serve, while also seeking to leverage shifts that occurred because of the health crisis to rebuild more equitable systems. We’ve sought opportunities to harness technology to identify and dismantle barriers to student progress. Our hope is that the outcomes and impacts generated by these initiatives encourage more institutions and systems to make structural changes.

We are optimistic about the shifts many colleges and universities made this year to better serve learners from low-income backgrounds. We look forward to supporting efforts to maintain and build upon this progress.

We’re grateful to our many grant partners in this space, who remind us that, no matter the hurdles that stand in the way, we’re stronger when we work together.

Featured Story

uia success story

We supported the University Innovation Alliance’s (UIA’s) effort to understand what it takes to develop, implement and evaluate completion grant programs. UIA’s 11 institutions combined to provide over $3 million in completion grants to nearly 5,000 students, all of whom were nearing the end of their college journey and needed modest financial aid to complete their degrees. Just as importantly, the process allowed the institutions to identify and address barriers in their systems that hindered student success.

But the initiative’s impact didn’t stop there. Wanting to share what was learned, the institutions collaborated on a Completion Grants Playbook designed to help colleges and universities introduce completion grants on their campuses. Launched in 2021, this playbook is now helping colleges and universities better understand institutional barriers and student financial needs as a first step in scaling their efforts, offering future generations of students a better shot at academic success.