National Skills Coalition Receives $600,000 from Ascendium Education Group to Support Partnerships Between Rural Community Colleges and Industry Stakeholders

December 14, 2022

Funding will increase rural learners’ access to equitable, quality employment opportunities

WASHINGTON, DC – December 14,2022   – National Skills Coalition (NSC) announced today that it received a $600,000 grant from Ascendium Education Group to help states change their workforce and higher education systems to create and strengthen partnerships between rural-based community colleges and industry partnerships – collaborations of employers with education, training, labor, and community-based organizations to address the local skill needs of a particular industry. These partnerships are evidence-based models for increasing credential completion, employment, and career advancement for learners from low-income backgrounds, particularly during times of economic change and industry transformation. This effort will document how existing partnerships have impacted the postsecondary and workforce success of rural learners and provide targeted technical assistance and coaching to state agencies and workforce coalitions in targeted states.

“Community colleges are anchor institutions in many rural communities,” said Andy Van Kleunen, NSC CEO. “Ascendium’s generous support of this vital initiative will lead to an increase in the number of model rural industry-community college partnerships, in turn, enabling more rural learners from low-income backgrounds to earn credentials that improve their employment, career advancement, and economic mobility.”

“We know partnerships between community colleges and industry stakeholders are critical to providing pathways to local, in-demand jobs,” said Kirstin Yeado, program officer at Ascendium. “We look forward to learning with NSC about how state policies and practices can support and sustain these partnerships in rural communities.”


About NSC and Ascendium

National Skills Coalition fights for inclusive, high-quality skills training so that people have access to a better life, and local businesses see sustained growth. We engage in analysis and technical assistance, organizing, advocacy, and communications to improve state and federal skills policies. 

Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit