This collection highlights reports, case studies, and other resources from Scholarships for Change, a project from Candid created with the support of the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The goal of Scholarships for Change was to explore and track how private and community foundation donors use scholarships as a force to accelerate the broader change they hope to see around the world. It pulled together data and knowledge to tell the story of how philanthropic dollars support transformative scholarships and guide funders in the practice of scholarship grantmaking.

Scholarships for Change was sunset in 2023. The resources continue to be accessible here, but this collection is no longer actively curated.

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Marginal Effects of Merit Aid for Low-Income Students

September 1, 2020

Financial aid from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) provides exceptionally generous support to a college population similar to that served by a host of state aid programs. In conjunction with STBF, we randomly assigned aid awards to thousands of Nebraska high school graduates from low-income, minority, and first-generation college households. Randomly assigned STBF awards boost bachelor's (BA) degree completion for students targeting four-year schools by about 8 points. Degree gains are concentrated among four-year applicants who would otherwise have been unlikely to pursue a four-year program. Degree effects are mediated by award-induced increases in credits earned towards a BA in the first year of college. The extent of initial four-year college engagement explains heterogeneous effects by target campus and across covariate subgroups. Most program spending is a transfer, reducing student debt without affecting degree attainment. Award-induced marginal spending is modest. The projected lifetime earnings impact of awards exceeds marginal educational spending for all of the subgroups examined in the study. Projected earnings gains exceed funder costs for low-income, non-white, urban, and first-generation students, and for students with relatively weak academic preparation.

Education Philanthropy Program: Remove Structural Barriers to Success

May 1, 2020

This overview of one of Ascendium's funding focus areas explores Ascendium's investment priorities supporting leadership development and student success, and the desired outcomes of that support. 

Education Philanthropy Program: Streamline Key Learner Transitions

May 1, 2020

This overview of one of Ascendium's funding focus areas explores Ascendium's investment priorities for streamlining diverse pathways into and through postsecondary education and learner transitions into the workforce, and the desired outcomes of that support. 

Education Philanthropy Program: Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison

May 1, 2020

This overview of one of Ascendium's funding focus areas explores Ascendium's investment priorities for expanding networks and sharing data and best practices around high-quality postsecondary education in prison, and the desired outcomes of that support. 

About Ascendium Education Philanthropy

May 1, 2020

This overview of Ascendium's education philanthropy details our strategic approach to philanthropy: how, where and what we fund, our four focus areas and our belief in the power of education for upward social mobility. 

Education Philanthropy Program: Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training

May 1, 2020

This overview of one of Ascendium's funding focus area explores Ascendium's investment priorities for expanding networks and sharing data around postsecondary education and workforce needs in rural areas, and the desired outcomes of that support. 

A Sharper Focus: 2019 Education Philanthropy Report

April 1, 2020

2019 was not only our first full year under the Ascendium name, we literally sharpened our focus to four areas: removing structural barriers, postsecondary education in prison, rural education and workforce training, and streamlining transitions. 

Education Grantmaking During COVID-19: Early Trends

April 1, 2020

In March 2020, the nation's schools began shutting down in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. More than 55 million students as well as teachers, administrators and families have had to adapt at lightning speed. Philanthropists have responded quickly, but the need for educating students has garnered little funding attention so far. Here are the early impacts of COVID-19 on learning.

Emergency Aid For Higher Education: A Toolkit and Resource Guide for Decision-makers

October 7, 2019

Ascendium Education Group (formerly known as Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates) has invested heavily to advance postsecondary success for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students. Since 2012, Ascendium has awarded over $10.2 million in Dash Emergency Grants to 63 two- and four-year institutions. Through Dash, colleges administer emergency aid (EA) grants to meet students' unanticipated expenses so that more of these students stay on track for completion. These small grants, often $500 or less, can make the difference in whether a student is able to remain in school. Ascendium contracted with Equal Measure in late 2017 to create a set of tools to help the field codify the process of awarding emergency aid. Emergency Aid for Higher Education: A Toolkit and Resource Guide for DecisionMakers is the result of more than 10 months of research, interviews, focus groups, and webinars with Dash Emergency Grant recipients that elucidated current best practices, and gaps, in administering EA programs.

Improving Healthcare by Investing in the Future of Nursing

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (scholarshipsforchange.org), explores Jonas Philanthropies investments in the futures of nurses. In 2008, Barbara and Donald Jonas decided to focus their philanthropy on nursing education leadership at the doctoral level through the Jonas Scholars program. 

A Legacy of Breaking Barriers

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (scholarshipsforchange.org), explores The Jackie Robinson Foundation's Scholars Program. The Foundation was created in Jackie Robinson's name to perpetuate his impact and remembrance. The Foundation's programming has grown considerably over the past 45 years, yet the Scholars Program remains centered around long-term commitment.

Creating a Safety Net to Increase College Completion

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (scholarshipsforchange.org), explores Ascendium Education Group's emergency grant program that helps students complete college. With five decades of experience providing student loans, Ascendium launched its philanthropy program designed to increase college access and completion for low-income populations and underrepresented groups. The case study explores how Ascendium implemented and scaled their direct support.