News 2019

Ascendium Education Solutions Awards YWMC up to $95,000 for 2019 College-Employer Partnerships Convening

The Yes We Must Coalition has been awarded up to $95,000 to plan, coordinate and host a two-day convening and to cover the costs of travel by 4-person teams from 18 YWMC member institutions. The goal of the convening is to develop a model for the collaborative engagement of colleges and employers with particular attention to what works for students from low-income backgrounds. The meeting will be held in September 2019 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

The member institutions participating in this grant are united by their commitment to low-income students. They are diverse in location — rural, urban and suburban — and represent various religious affiliations, including several with no affiliation. One is a two-year school although several of the 4-year schools also award Associate degrees. There are two federal Work Colleges among the group, four HBCUs, a women’s college and several Minority Serving Institutions.

Participating YWMC Institutions:

  • Augsburg University
  • Averett University
  • Benedict College
  • Blackburn College
  • Calumet College of St. Joseph
  • Chowan University
  • Coker College
  • Holy Names University
  • Huston-Tillotson University
  • Martin Methodist College
  • Mercy College
  • Mount Aloysius College
  • Muskingum University
  • Paul Quinn College
  • Robert Morris University – Illinois
  • Trocaire College
  • Union College – Kentucky

The Coalition is grateful for this support from Ascendium that allows us to work across institutions to explore existing models of employer engagement and build our own employer engagement plan that becomes a 4-year pathway to professional readiness.
— Gloria Nemerowicz, President, Yes We Must Coalition

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Four years ago, at a YWMC Institute focusing on collaboration, members discussed ideas about how to work together to prepare students for and help usher them into meaningful work after college for which they would be well-prepared and enthusiastic. It was noted that students from low-income backgrounds have a particular need for early and frequent exposure to a range of career and graduate study options as well as a need for reinforcement of the development of a professional identity.

For a year following the Institute, the Yes We Must Coalition facilitated discussions about how to organize a nation-wide inventory of employers with whom our members had some relationship, in order to see if we might create a national resource of employer involvement for our students. The more we worked at it, the more we realized that we needed to make partnerships at the local level that might then be scaled. We also became aware of the need to integrate preparation for the world of professional work into the earliest experiences of our students and carry that preparation through to graduation. It is clear that preparation needs to involve employers in the life of the campus as well as involve students in the professional workplace. It is a reciprocal relationship.

About Ascendium

Ascendium Education Group (formerly Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates) is the nation’s largest student loan guarantor as well as a leading higher education philanthropy and provider of student success services for postsecondary institutions. Founded in 1967, Ascendium provides information, tools and counseling to millions of borrowers nationwide, helping them avoid the consequences of default and keeping the door to re-enrollment open. Since 2006, Ascendium’s philanthropy program has committed more than $325 million in grant funding aimed at exploring, validating and scaling evidence-based strategies for overcoming systemic obstacles to completion of postsecondary education, particularly for students from historically underserved populations. All of Ascendium’s operations are grounded in the belief that every individual has potential to contribute meaningfully to their community and society. We work to unleash that potential through the power of higher education, and to eliminate barriers that stand in the way of its fulfillment. To learn more, visit