Rural Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities — Part II


A special series from the Rural Matters podcast

This episode is the second of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group.

In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with four individuals committed to improving education in West Virginia: Danielle Vetter, Senior Program Officer at Ascendium Education Group; Stephanie Hyre, Senior Program Officer of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; Corley Dennison, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education; and Paul Daugherty, President & CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia.

Vetter discusses Ascendium’s priorities in the rural space, including research, building capacity for postsecondary providers, and catalyzing investment and partnerships to create opportunities and open doors that may have been previously closed. Dennison notes how rural West Virginia really is and how important it is to initiate innovative programs, such as one designed to improve developmental education. Dennison also describes the main goal of West Virginia Climbs, supported by Ascendium, that 60 percent of workers in the state will have some kind postsecondary credentials by 2020.

Daugherty explains how Philanthropy West Virginia promotes collaboration among government, businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropy to bolster communities, an effort that has taken on added significance during the pandemic, especially on the issues of food security and business and survival. Hyre describes the work of the Education Affinity Group, a subset of Philanthropy West Virginia whose priorities include early childhood literacy and postsecondary degree attainment.