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On the Path to Success: $375,000 in Tools of the Trade Scholarships Awarded by Ascendium Education Group

Madison, Wis.—For the eighth straight year, Ascendium Education Group has recognized the important role of apprenticeships in preparing students for in-demand jobs by providing scholarships through the Tools of the Trade Scholarship program. This year, Ascendium awarded a total of $375,000 in scholarships to 250 construction and industrial trade apprentices from 15 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) institutions.

Each apprentice received a $1,500 scholarship to assist with the cost of equipment, tools and clothing to keep them on the path to success. Over the course of eight years, Ascendium has provided nearly $2 million in scholarships to apprentices with financial need. Ninety-four percent of past recipients have either completed or continued their apprenticeship in the fall following their scholarship award.

Ascendium is especially pleased to support an additional 50 apprentices this year. Financial pressure can make it hard for learners to complete apprenticeships, particularly if they are juggling school, work and family while also completing their apprenticeship. These scholarships provide some financial relief to apprentices to aid in purchasing necessary supplies, which are often significant investments made at the start of their careers when apprentices may have the fewest resources available.

“Being awarded a Tools of the Trade scholarship by Ascendium is an amazing feeling,” said Kyle Esser, an electrical apprentice who received a scholarship in 2020. “I don’t need to worry about buying new work clothes or tools for a while now and that is a huge relief as it allows me to focus more on school.”

This was an extraordinary year due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but it also brought to light the importance of apprentices and those working in the skilled trades. These apprentices and workers are essential employees, working through the health crisis to maintain critical infrastructure operations for society.

Discussions at the national level to expand these pathways for learners continue as legislators explore the possibilities of diversifying and expanding apprenticeship programs in conjunction with industry leaders, educational institutions and others nationwide.

“Ascendium is proud to continue to support apprentices in the Wisconsin Technical College System,” said Amy Kerwin – Vice President of Education Philanthropy at Ascendium. “By helping these learners overcome financial barriers, they can focus on successfully completing their apprenticeship and securing in-demand jobs.”

To learn more about Ascendium’s philanthropy, please visit