Supporting our communities through giving

Creating community is a collaborative effort. That’s why for more than 50 years, we have been supporting nonprofits that share our commitment to helping more people from low-income backgrounds achieve postsecondary education and workforce training success. We focus this support in the Madison, Wisconsin area.



Meeting workforce needs as they arise

Urban League of Greater Madison seeks to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to advance professionally and contribute to the common good. It does this, in part, by collaborating with local businesses to help meet labor market and employer demand. As a result, its powerful platform has helped thousands of learners from low-income backgrounds secure new or better work in stable and emerging industries in the past few years alone.

Recently, the organization recognized a shortage of Commercial Driver’s License drivers for existing jobs, as well as the opportunity for new jobs the country’s transition to solar and other renewable energies is expected to create. A $250,000 grant from Ascendium will help them to develop and implement short-term, intensive career training academies in these fields over the next two years. These new academies will allow the Urban League to serve as a bridge between employers and job seekers, helping to ensure equitable access to well-paying careers.



Supporting students every step of the way

Since 1999, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County has inspired and empowered nearly 7,750 young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible adults. It does this, in part, by addressing opportunity gaps that create academic achievement disparities within the Madison Metropolitan School District and beyond.

A $250,000 grant from Ascendium helps the organization fund its Advancement via Individual Determination/Teens of Promise (AVID/TOPS) and TOPS College Success programs through the 2021-22 academic year. These programs aim to close the achievement gap for students from low-income backgrounds by improving attendance, GPAs, access to rigorous coursework, on-time high school graduation, enrollment into postsecondary education and persistence and degree completion.



Changing lives, changing the community

For 40 years, JustDane has inspired hope for individuals set back by incarceration and other life challenges. Through innovative programs, this Madison-area nonprofit helps its clients gain the job training they need to overcome their barriers to success and earn a living. And it’s not done innovating yet!

Recently, JustDane recognized a need to develop a training program for individuals interested in hotel or restaurant management or starting their own business. A $55,000 planning grant from Ascendium helps them do that work. Due to launch in 2022, the 12-week program will give students an opportunity to pursue management positions and earn a certificate in hospitality management. It will also grant graduates admission into Madison College’s Hospitality Management program. It’s all in service of making a more just and equitable community.



Building better futures

Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides a path toward self-sufficiency for young adults disconnected from work and school through education, mentoring and on-the-job training. OFS participants build affordable homes, help maintain city and county parks and earn a high school diploma and driver’s license. But it doesn’t stop there. Its Graduate Crews provide pre-apprentice training for young adults ages 16-24 just starting careers in the construction trades. Crews work on projects all over Dane County — including our new headquarters.

In late 2021, OFS will launch a new Conservation Graduate Crew pathway and bolster its existing construction crew. Ascendium is proud to support those efforts with a two-year, $250,000 grant. There’s much to be excited about: 93% of those who complete the Graduate Crew program are placed in apprenticeships, setting a foundation for greater socioeconomic mobility and a better life.



Bringing students closer to federal aid

College Goal Wisconsin provides free information and assistance to families who need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the federally required form for students seeking financial aid. For 15 years, the all-volunteer program has helped thousands of young people, including first-generation college students and those from low-income backgrounds, make their dream of attending college a reality.

We’re pleased to continue our longstanding support for College Goal Wisconsin with a grant to help facilitate virtual FAFSA completion events. These events offer students and their families free professional assistance with completing the FAFSA and an opportunity to win a scholarship.

Giving beyond our communities


Through our national philanthropy, we fund projects that help learners from low-income backgrounds throughout the country succeed in postsecondary education and workforce training.

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