Ascendium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has helped millions of learners pursue postsecondary education since 1967, when we were formed to help fulfill the promise of the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965. Over the years, we’ve grown to become the nation’s largest federal student loan guarantor, providing information, tools and counseling to help millions of borrowers nationwide avoid default and keep the door to reenrollment open. We also conceive and develop innovative products and services that support academic achievement, financial wellness and student loan repayment success and invest in studying and improving postsecondary education practices through our philanthropy.
We use the net proceeds from our guaranty services and other operations to fund our philanthropy. The Philanthropy team comprises program, grants management, and learning and impact staff who all have a shared commitment to advancing our philanthropic mission of elevating opportunities for learners from low-income backgrounds so they can achieve postsecondary educational and career success. Our grantmaking focuses on transforming postsecondary education and workforce training systems so they can support low-income populations, especially those in historically underrepresented groups, including first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Currently, our philanthropy focuses on removing structural barriers to success, streamlining key learner transitions, expanding postsecondary education in prison and supporting rural postsecondary education and workforce training. Across these four focus areas, our funding supports innovative ideas, the creation of an evidence base and the expansion and replication of effective practices.
If you enjoy collecting, analyzing and presenting evidence to strengthen grantmaking focused on improving the lives of learners from low-income backgrounds, then you’ll want to apply for our open Associate Learning and Impact Officer position. In this position, you’ll strengthen our ability to act on input from grantees by collecting actionable evidence about our philanthropy operations and impact, facilitating learning processes across our four funding focus areas and communicating resulting lessons to internal and external stakeholders.
This position is based in Madison, Wisconsin, at our new, state-of-the-art headquarters. You’ll have a hybrid schedule, working both in the office and remotely. You’ll also have opportunities to travel to conferences, grantee events and other forums.
Your day-to-day activities may include the following.
- Leading the ongoing collection and analysis of survey data from our grantees and applicants and spearheading reflections on and improvement of these feedback processes to ensure they support our continuous improvement.
- Exploring opportunities to leverage our primary data sources (e.g., grant applications and grant reports), in partnership with the Grants Management and Education Grantmaking teams, to support board reports and data-informed improvements to our philanthropic practices, policies and strategies.
- Supporting grants to external partners that increase secondary data analysis and reporting on national trends in postsecondary outcomes, labor market success and upward mobility for the subpopulations of learners prioritized by Ascendium.
- Supporting advisory councils convened by Ascendium to provide guidance on research and evaluation initiatives.
- Using analysis from primary and secondary data sources to generate intuitive, informative and visually appealing tables and charts for dashboards, data placemats, data walks, PowerPoint presentations, etc.
- Effectively communicating findings to internal staff and, in collaboration with the Strategic Communications team, to external stakeholders.
- Designing and executing learning events (e.g., learning sessions, site visits and convenings) to evaluate findings and turn lessons learned into improved decisions.
- Assisting with the review, design, sourcing and monitoring of third-party evaluations of grants, grant clusters, grant initiatives and philanthropic strategy.
- Coauthoring blogs, articles and papers about our philanthropic practice in learning and impact.
- Using project management tools to effectively steward multiple projects.
- Providing overall support to the Learning and Impact team and the implementation of our core workstreams, as necessary.
Knowledge and Skill Requirements
A highly qualified candidate will possess the following.
- Knowledge equivalent to a master’s degree in higher education, education, education policy, economics, public policy, sociology or another relevant social field.
- Three to five years of full-time professional work experience in postsecondary education, philanthropy and/or nonprofit organizations.
- Experience with quantitative and qualitative methods with a particular focus on survey design and survey data analysis.
- Knowledge and experience with traditional (e.g., National Student Clearinghouse, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and Unemployment Insurance Data) and contemporary (e.g., Burning Glass, LinkedIn and EMSI) data sources related to postsecondary, workforce and social mobility.
- Experience with statistical software, such as Stata or R, to support data analysis of secondary data sources.
- Familiarity with data visualization techniques, including dashboard creations in Excel, Tableau or other software.
- Capacity to skillfully and accurately communicate data to multiple stakeholders.
- Project management skills with a demonstrated ability to execute and follow through to achieve intended results by honoring commitments, prioritizing work and managing time and resources well.
- Attention to detail.
- Ability to work cooperatively and inclusively with others to achieve shared goals.
- Willingness to learn and adapt to a fast-paced, continually evolving work environment.
- Ability to develop and maintain strong working relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders.
- Interest in creating and building new systems, practices and cultures.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
How To Apply
To apply for this position, please click here.