Student loan guarantor Ascendium Education Group has announced a $10 million commitment in support of efforts by postsecondary education networks and membership organizations to promote education reform during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the aim of supporting community colleges and other institutions of higher education, which have been slashing budgets in anticipation of large COVID-related revenue shortfalls, the Maintain Momentum for Student Success initiative will enable networks and organizations leading the student success movement to offer discounted dues to their member colleges and universities; adapt their services and offerings for remote and online delivery; and continue to support data-informed decision-making, guided pathways reform, and leadership development.
To that end, Ascendium awarded initial grants totaling $3.1 million to Achieving the Dream (ATD), which works with community colleges to advance bold, holistic, sustainable institutional change for student success through offerings such as the Institutional Capacity Framework, Pathways Coaching, and Holistic Student Supports; and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), which works to expand student access and opportunity, promote world-class teaching and experiential learning tied to career advancement, and support applied research and service that advances economic development and quality of life.
In addition to its $10 million commitment, Ascendium has created a $2 million COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to address immediate needs in the field and, through the fund, has awarded a grant to the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which is working with instructors of gateway mathematics courses to adapt their courses for online delivery.
"The danger in this crisis is that the most vulnerable students will be the hardest hit," said Amy Kerwin, Ascendium’s vice president of education philanthropy. "If student success reforms stall out because of COVID-19, those students will be impacted even more."