Social Finance Receives Multimillion Dollar Investment From Ascendium, Truist Foundation to Help Create New Pathways to Economic Mobility

Press Release

Boston—Today, the national nonprofit and registered investment advisor Social Finance announced grants from Ascendium Education Group and Truist Foundation to develop and launch innovative workforce programs to advance economic mobility in communities across the U.S. 

Together, these grants will support innovative approaches to expanding economic mobility.  

One initiative, funded by Ascendium and Truist Foundation, will focus on workforce and economic development programs in rural communities, where barriers prevent workers from entering or persisting in career pathways to jobs with family-sustaining wages. Supporting workers along each step of this pathway, from education and training to initial placement to advancement, requires investment in an economic ecosystem that includes public, private, and social sector partners. 

Another initiative, funded by Ascendium, will explore pre-apprenticeship programs, which help people enter into formal and often union-affiliated apprenticeships. This work will expand access to quality pre-apprenticeship programs with robust wraparound support services that enable workers to obtain well-paying union jobs in critical industries. The initiative will primarily prioritize skilled trades, given recent federal investments in infrastructure and clean energy. 

Ascendium’s grant will also support the Social Finance Institute, an action-oriented field-building platform within Social Finance that leverages insights from practitioners and experts to develop networks, tools, and actionable research to advance outcomes-based, impact-first funding initiatives. 

“We’re excited and grateful to Ascendium and Truist Foundation for the opportunity to explore new approaches to workforce training to advance economic mobility,” Social Finance Co-Founder and CEO Tracy Palandjian said. “And the ability for us to share learnings from this work through the Institute, makes this support doubly impactful.” 

“Ascendium’s partnership with Social Finance reflects our shared commitment to improving postsecondary education and workforce training outcomes—and, ultimately, economic mobility —for low-income individuals, particularly those in rural areas,” Carolynn Lee, Ascendium’s deputy director of education grantmaking, said. “We value Social Finance’s data-informed approach and their focus on strategically disseminating insights to create more pathways to opportunity.” 

“At Truist Foundation, we realize we can’t do this work alone and believe the greatest impact is achieved when we join like-minded partners to invest in the future of our workforce,” said Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation. “Through Social Finance’s unique finance model, and with Ascendium’s support, we are dedicated to building a reskilling and upskilling program that will help reshape the workforce system in rural America—ultimately allowing under- and unemployed workers to thrive.” 

Social Finance has been designing and implementing innovative outcomes-based approaches for more than a dozen years. The organization oversees the $50 million UP Fund to help unemployed and underemployed people across the U.S. secure good jobs in a changing economy. It also manages an investment program with support from the $100 million Google Certificates Fund, which aims to help 20,000 learners realize more than $1 billion in wage gains. Additionally, Social Finance has designed workforce partnerships in New Jersey and Colorado that provide zero-interest loans to prepare learners for jobs in-demand in fields like health care, skilled trades, and cybersecurity. 

Social Finance is actively searching for regional partners to collaborate on rural workforce efforts. Community organizations focused on or adjacent to economic and workforce development in rural communities—this could include community investment funds, economic development organizations, employers, local philanthropies, training providers, and others—that may be interested should complete this form. 


About Ascendium
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit

About Truist Foundation
Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for better quality of life. Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Learn more at

About Social Finance
Social Finance is a national nonprofit and registered investment adviser (SF Advisors, LLC). We work with the public, private, and social sectors to create partnerships and investments that measurably improve lives. Our Impact Investment team designs, launches, and manages impact-first investments. Our Advisory team partners with government and philanthropy leaders to implement data-driven programs for social impact. And through the Social Finance Institute, we aim to build the field and change systems through policy advocacy, actionable research, and communities of practice. Since our founding in 2011, we have mobilized more than $350 million in new investments designed to help people and communities realize improved outcomes in workforce and economic mobility, health, and housing. Learn more at