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Leilani Pimentel
Director of Development, APIA Scholars

Ascendium Education Group Supports Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Research and Higher Education Institutions through Rural Education Planning Grant

Six-month grant will support development of research and institutional capacity-building for Pacific Island AANAPISIs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 30, 2020) – APIA Scholars, the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the higher education needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community, announced today a partnership with the Ascendium Education Group in support of a new initiative focused on rural Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) research and institutional capacity-building.

A $144,400 planning grant spanning six months, May through October, will support APIA Scholars’ development of a Pacific Island-based research project and institutional capacity-building initiative centered on federally designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) serving NHPI students in the Pacific.

“APIA Scholars is grateful to the Ascendium Education Group for the opportunity to highlight the needs of rural NHPI students as a part of the foundation’s national rural strategy. By collaborating with key intermediaries in the rural Pacific to expand knowledge and increase institutional capacity, APIA Scholars looks forward to supporting policies, partnerships, and programs that impact the college and career pathways of NHPI students in the Pacific for generations to come,” said Noel Harmon, President and Executive Director of APIA Scholars.

“I thank the Ascendium Education Group for its partnership and investment in rural NHPI communities and institutions,” said the Honorable Robert Underwood, founding Board Member of APIA Scholars and President Emeritus of the University of Guam. “The experiences and challenges of NHPI students residing in the Pacific Islands are so often absent from research and national conversations on educational equity. This partnership gives me hope that the isolation these students face will be replaced by increased access, recognition, and opportunity for success.”

“We’re honored to partner with APIA Scholars to learn how we can empower rural NHPI learners to achieve their postsecondary and career goals,” said Danielle Vetter, Senior Program Officer, Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training at Ascendium. “Postsecondary institutions in the rural Pacific highlight the vast diversity present in rural areas of the country – they also underscore the need to increase our attention on understanding on how to best serve this unique set of learners. I’m looking forward to uncovering the powerful lessons that APIA Scholars and their partners will discover throughthis initiative.”

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About Ascendium Education Group

Ascendium Education Group is the nation’s largest federal student loan guarantor, a leading postsecondary education philanthropy and a provider of student success services for postsecondary institutions. Ascendium, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides information, tools and counseling

to help millions of borrowers nationwide avoid default and keep the door to re-enrollment open. Ascendium’s philanthropic mission is to elevate opportunities and outcomes for learners from low- income backgrounds so they can better achieve postsecondary educational and career success. To learn more, visit

About APIA Scholars

Based in Washington, D.C., Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) Scholars is the nation’s largest non- profit organization devoted to creating opportunities that provide access to higher education and resources that cultivate the academic, personal and professional success of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs). These efforts include various development programs, college preparation workshops, and scholarship awards. Since 2003, APIA Scholars has distributed over $150 million in scholarships to deserving APIA students. APIA Scholars manages three scholarship programs: the APIA

Scholars General Scholarship, the APIA Scholars Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander – Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Scholarship, and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.