Ascendium Grant Will Streamline Transfers and Increase Student Retention, Graduations

The pathway from a two-year college to Kent State University will soon become an easier road to travel for Ohio students, thanks to a grant awarded to Kent State to collaborate with three Ohio community colleges to streamline the transfer process.

Ascendium Education Group awarded Kent State a $1.09 million grant to partner with Lorain County Community College (LCCC), Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) and Columbus State Community College (CSCC) in developing transfer pathways that streamline student progress toward a degree.

“Kent State is excited to partner with these three outstanding community colleges to provide a seamless transfer experience for Ohio residents, said Mary G. Parker, Ed.D., vice president for enrollment management at Kent State. “We believe this grant will help reduce the barriers to degree completion for low-income, first-generation and students of color.”

The goal is to develop an innovative model that can be shared and replicated statewide and will lead to increased retention and graduation rates.

“Streamlining key transitions for learners is a focus of Ascendium’s funding strategy, so this project aligns very well with our philanthropic goals,” said Amy Kerwin, vice president of education grantmaking at Ascendium. “Increasing meaningful collaboration across and between educational systems will enable more students to achieve their academic and career goals.”

Kent State’s new Division of Enrollment Management, along with the School of Foundations, Leadership and Administration in Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Office of System Integration will lead administration of the grant.

The grant, funded until June 30, 2022, will enhance all of the institutions’ existing transfer and retention efforts to increase degree completion. This initiative will benefit students across Kent State’s eight-campus system and will culminate in a ‘blueprint’ that aims to outline best practices for two-year to four-year transfer pathways.

For instance, Kent State will hire a Transfer Advisor who maintains regular hours at area community colleges to meet with counselors and provide educational advising for students.

LCCC is Kent State’s co-investigator in the initiative. The Ascendium grant partnership expands the existing University Partnership Agreement between LCCC and Kent State.

“As co-lead of the project with Kent State, we will share the best practices of our University Partnership program and our experience in creating seamless 3+1 pathways, which deliver affordable access to bachelor’s degree programs,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “This collaboration with Kent State will enhance our existing work on student success and completion – directly aligning with our institution’s strategic vision, specifically our future focused commitment to expand clear and affordable pathways to bachelor’s and graduate degrees.”

To build on the existing successful efforts, Kent State will implement the following initiatives as part of the Ascendium grant:

  • Implement a series of 2+2 vertical pathways designed to increase retention and graduation rates.
  • Provide integrated support and outreach for underrepresented students.
  • Share data to improve the transfer process.
  • Provide transfer advising in the community colleges. 
  • Provide specialized daylong orientation and advising sessions for students transferring to Kent State.
  • Create opportunities for transfer students to connect quickly to Kent State faculty, research and internship opportunities.
  • Enhance the role of faculty in aiding the retention and graduation of transfer students.

For more information about Kent State, visit

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Media Contacts:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595
April McClellan-Copeland,, 330-672-1968


UPDATED: Friday, December 09, 2022 08:54 AM
April McClellan-Copeland