West Virginia is receiving $750,000 to provide college students free online textbooks, better advising and emergency money for unexpected expenses, among other things, the state’s higher education oversight agencies announced Thursday.
The donation is from Ascendium Education Group Inc., a nonprofit that is also a guarantor for federal student loans, meaning it steps in to pay for certain loans if borrowers can not.
A news release from the oversight agencies said the money will support nearly two years of work.
But — with the help of Philanthropy West Virginia’s Education Funders Affinity Group, which includes more than 25 foundations and companies — the state said it hopes to receive more donations to extend that.
Paul D. Daugherty, president and chief executive officer of Philanthropy West Virginia, said the goal is $250,000 from West Virginia-based funders to be added to Ascendium’s $750,000. He said Ascendium is the first national funder the Education Funders Affinity Group has been able to attract through its strategy of pooling West Virginia philanthropic resources together.
“When local foundations organize with schools, nonprofits and companies and go to national funders, it really brings a great positive response,” Daugherty said.
The news release said that “in line with West Virginia’s Climb initiative, which seeks to arm 60% of the state’s workforce with a postsecondary credential by 2030, the programming resulting from the Ascendium grant will provide tools and resources for rural students, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds.”
That proportion with a postsecondary certificate or higher degree is only about 38%, according to the latest numbers from the Lumina Foundation.