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Education Impact Investments

Through mission-aligned investing, we support emerging innovations that increase learner success.

Facilitating Education-Focused Innovations

Impact investing is one of the key ways we accomplish our mission to champion opportunity for everyone. Our investments advance change to postsecondary education and workforce training systems through new technologies and solutions so more learners can achieve their academic and career goals.


Our investment strategy is based on the positive impacts each investment is expected to have on learners from low-income backgrounds. We actively evaluate investments based on the alignment of their goals with our mission and the results they produce, both socially and financially. We channel financial returns into our philanthropy program, which allows us to make even more progress in accomplishing our mission.


We invest in companies at the forefront of revolutionizing education delivery and financial services. Our investments enable them to develop and evolve their innovations over time, demonstrating their capability to improve learner outcomes. To facilitate the greatest change, we invest in education companies as well as education-focused venture capital funds.

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Direct Investments

Ascendium directly invests in mission-aligned endeavors offered by its affiliate NorthStar Education Services™. NorthStar currently supports two direct investments: Campus Sonar and Co-Pay Partners.


Colleges and universities need to understand and connect with their students, parents and alumni to enact meaningful change. A higher education consulting firm, Campus Sonar partners with colleges and universities to use social intelligence to build trust and achieve strategic goals. By translating data into insights, Campus Sonar helps colleges and universities transform their brand strategy, recruitment efforts, audience engagement and more.

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Many employers are interested in including student loan paydown in their benefits package to help employees with their educational goals and reduce financial stress. However, the administration of such a program can be challenging. As a result, Co-Pay Partners developed a robust software solution to help employers implement and manage the benefit more easily. The product shares the same name as the company and is included in Ascendium’s Attigo suite of solutions.

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"With our extensive experience in postsecondary education and workforce training systems, we have witnessed firsthand the positive impact new technologies have on learners from low-income backgrounds. The collective talent of entrepreneurs who are focused on developing new products and services to improve learner outcomes is a powerful force. We are pleased to be a part of their efforts to define the future of education services."


Exploration and Validation Investments

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Achieve Partners

We invest in education-focused venture capital funds to leverage the incredible talents of entrepreneurs across the country. These fund managers drive disruptive innovation in the education solution space. One of our investments is with Achieve Partners, a venture capital firm pioneering a unique approach to apprenticeships. Companies in their portfolio hire and train college graduates and unemployed or underemployed people with high-demand, industry-specific skills. Those people then enter the workforce as highly sought-after analysts and consultants. Not only does this approach address talent shortages, but it also generates opportunities for economic advancement.