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#2023APPAM Spotlight: Ascendium Education Group


The #2023APPAM Fall Research Conference will feature some fantastic sponsors from across the policy research spectrum. Today we're shining a spotlight on Ascendium Education Group.


What is the mission of your organization?


Formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to help fulfill the promise of the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965, Ascendium Education Group has helped millions of learners pursue postsecondary education. Over the years, we have grown to become not only the nation’s largest federal student loan guarantor, but also one of its most active postsecondary education philanthropies. Ascendium's philanthropy is grounded in the belief that every individual has the potential to contribute meaningfully to their community and society. Ascendium has committed millions of grant dollars to help postsecondary learners nationwide earn degrees and credentials that can substantially strengthen their opportunities for greater social mobility. Learners from low-income backgrounds face obstacles at every step of their academic journey. Our philanthropy aims to clear a path for those who face a disproportionate number of obstacles, including first-generation students, rural community members, students of color and incarcerated adults. We’re determined to elevate opportunities and outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds so they can secure good jobs and achieve upward mobility.

How do you approach your work?


Ascendium's national philanthropy focuses on efforts that promise durable improvements in our postsecondary and workforce systems so that they produce more equitable outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds. Our grantmaking focus areas emphasize removing structural barriers to success, streamlining key learner transitions, expanding postsecondary education in prison, and supporting rural postsecondary education and workforce training.  We fund reforms at every stage of development, from promising but untested practices to proven approaches ready to scale. Read more about our funding approach here. Core to our approach is a strong commitment to evidence-building, as emphasized and funded through our validation grants; guidance for validation grant applicants proposing impact evaluations can be found here.

What else would you like to include in your Spotlight?


Come connect with us at APPAM's 2023 fall conference! We'll be holding office hours for researchers, evaluators, and others interested in learning more about Ascendium's grantmaking priorities and our investments in validation grants that fund mixed-methods impact studies of promising reforms and innovations. For more information, contact Jessa Valentine, Senior Learning & Impact Officer.

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