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Rural Matters

Feb 4, 2022

In the first installment of our six-part series produced in collaboration with and underwritten by the Ascendium Education Group, Michelle chats with
Kirstin Yeado, a program officer at Ascendium responsible for strategic grantmaking in support of Ascendium’s Rural Education and Workforce Training program.: Shanell Watson, a program officer with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, a foundation that has focused on increasing postsecondary access and completion for Mississippi residents since 1995.; Denise Callahan, the Director of Postsecondary Success at The Ford Family Foundation in Oregon; and Allison Pennington, Programs & Strategy Associate for Greater Texas Foundation, a private foundation focused on helping more Texans complete postsecondary credentials. In this first part of our 2022 series — a continuation of our terrific series produced with Ascendium last year — Yeado discusses how her organization seeks to remove obstacles faced by learners from low-income backgrounds, investing in high-quality, actionable research, and implementing evidence-based strategic initiatives for learners. Watson discusses essential tools that funders need to successfully build relationships with partners to implement programs in rural communities and how her organization learns strategies for success through its Get2College programming and grantmaking efforts, such as the Global Teaching Project. Callahan discusses why The Ford Family Foundation focuses almost exclusively on rural communities, why success in education beyond high school is such an important part of the foundation’s work, and the findings from its 2021 report, “Supporting Rural Students in Oregon in High School and Beyond: A Study of College Enrollment, Persistence, Transfer, and Completion Outcomes.” Pennington discusses why Greater Texas Foundation intentionally funds rural communities and highlights examples of successful rural postsecondary education collaboratives in Texas, including Rural College Promise and West Texas Rural Resilience and Opportunity on the High Plains. This episode and the entire six-part series is supported by the Ascendium Education Group.