Ascendium Education Group Grant will Subsidize ATD 2020-2021 Coaching Packages for Eligible Colleges

SILVER SPRING, MD (July 23, 2020) - Today, Ascendium Education Group announced the first two grants of a $10 million initiative to allow postsecondary education networks and membership organizations to continue engaging their members in reform work amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 health crisis.

The Maintain Momentum for Student Success Initiative will allow networks like Achieving the Dream and membership organizations like American Association of State Colleges and Universities that are leading the student success movement to offer reduced costs to their member colleges and universities. It will also allow them to adapt their services and offerings to remote and online delivery, even as they continue championing such reforms as data-informed decision-making, guided pathways reform and leadership development.

Achieving the Dream is one of the first two recipients and will use the grant to subsidize the cost of 2020-2021 coaching packages and help institutions continue their student success work with ATD, despite the COVID-19 related interruptions. Eligible institutions are those that serve a student body with at least 40 percent of their first-time full-time students identified as Pell eligible. ATD is inviting those institutions to discuss how ATD can meet their unique institutional needs at this time through coaching.  

“As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts communities across the nation and around the globe, we continue to be heartened and inspired by stories of how community colleges are supporting their students and communities. ATD is pleased to be selected by Ascendium Education Group to help our colleges offset the cost of our 2020-2021 coaching packages. We are contacting colleges that are eligible to receive funding to continue student success work, despite any COVID-19 related interruptions they may be experiencing,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

“Over the years, Ascendium and other funders have invested millions of dollars in postsecondary learner success reforms. Membership organizations and networks have been crucial partners in the reform movement,” said Amy Kerwin, vice president - education philanthropy of Ascendium, in announcing the initiative.

“The danger in this crisis is that the most vulnerable students will be the hardest hit,” Kerwin continued. “If student success reforms stall out because of COVID-19, those students will be impacted even more.”

By supporting membership organizations and networks, Ascendium hopes to impact potentially tens of thousands of college students whose institutions will be making painful choices about professional development and membership expenses for upcoming budgets. The initiative’s time frame is flexible to allow for the possibility that financial impacts will be greater in the next fiscal year.


Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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