Achieving Student Confidence Encouraging New Dreams Equity Realized

ASCENDER is a holistic approach to student, faculty, and institutional advancement. The program was created to engage faculty and staff in culturally responsive professional development. At the same time, they work with cohorts of underserved students at their home campuses to ensure their academic success. Students are intentionally recruited into the program by designated advisors who then support students until transfer or graduation. The framework includes

  • Navigational support through holistic advising, counseling, and a Learning Framework course

  • An academic pathway that features a year-long sequence of English and additional core subjects by instructors trained in the model

  • Student Engagement component that includes community mentorship, cultural events, leadership development and internships

For information on our results, click here

Catch the Next's Campaign for College Completion and Economic Development focuses on scaling the ASCENDER program nationwide. 


(formerly known as "Dream Catchers"):


Our approach to student success begins with professional development for those implementing the Ascender framework.

All faculty, staff and administrators attend 3 training sessions during the academic year which are eligible for 5 graduate credits through UT's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. 

Student Reflections

I am not doubting myself as much because I have been  doing my best in these classes and it gave me confidence  and better self-esteem which goes a long way. I have seen  that I like to work around people; it gives me the  motivation to finish my work and keep busy. That has been  very helpful these past few weeks. Another big thing was  having a smaller class, that gave us more time to get stuff  done and to talk with the professor.

I am still not sure what I will become, there are so many  things I can be. This program has helped by showing that I can actually pass my classes, am very grateful for the professors that I had this semester. I was in a great environment while in their classes and I hope that I can have more experiences like this. I wish I would have known about this program before because I wouldn't have wasted so much time before.

--Hector Benitez

This semester was not only challenging inside of school, but also outside of school. One of the most important lessons I learned is that it’s okay to be selfish and focus on yourself. I’ve also discovered that I’m a pretty good writer, especially when it’s about me. Writing has become a sort of creative outlet for me to just to put all my feelings out there, and as well a way to talk about things I’m passionate about. Learning how to manage my time better has become the key to being successful not only in school but life in general. This semester has allowed me to set up a good foundation for the rest of my college experience. This program has given me the opportunity to make friends, have access to an advisor and have great professors. Moving from Houston to Austin I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make friends, but ASCENDER put me an environment where I was able to make friends. I used to be so terrified of speaking in front of the class or getting asked a question by the professor but now I can say I’m comfortable with speaking my mind in class. The small classroom environment has really helped me break out of my shell and be me at all times.

Everything I’ve learned in English so far has really interested me and makes me want to learn more about the world we live in. The topic that has especially stuck with me is the most recent one about immigration, which just reminds me why I want to be a Social Worker.

--daniela castro

Our Training Has Helped Professors Close the Opportunity Gap

Students taught by CTN-trained faculty earn more degrees and spend less on their education.