Ascender Program

Catch The Next! Ascender Model
Institution (custom)
Catch the Next
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Academic Program
Program Focus
First Year Support


The Ascender Program provides academic, emotional-social, and community support for Latino and other underserved community college students. They aim to increase the number of students who successfully complete developmental coursework their first-year, in particular, college-level gatekeeper courses such as English and Math and increase the number of students who graduate from the community college and transfer to a four-year college or university. Faculty and administrators in the program participate in 3 professional development seminars earning a total of 5 graduate credits from the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

Program Description

The Program has three components:

1) Navigational support: students receive counseling & career advising before they register for classes. Once registered, students take a “Learning frameworks” course focused on study skills and time management.

2) Academic pathway: In the second semester, students move into college-level English course with the same instructor to support their transition into college-level coursework.

3) Student engagement: Students are engaged with mentors from their community and participate in the Ascender Scholar Club where they learn leadership and organizational skills.

Counseling, mentoring, Familia, and student leadership provide Latino students with support, a sense of belonging, and motivation to succeed and lead in their communities. Advisors have been added to the college team, and they focus on the course and career selection. In addition, Catch the Next provides a sequence of 3 college seminars at the University of Texas at Austin and implements the Ascender Framework for Student Advancement. The summer seminar grants 3 graduate credits.


The Ascender program serves predominately Latino students:

From 2012-2016, Ascender students successfully completed developmental reading and writing at an average rate of 80%, whereas state averages remain near 60-65%. 

In 2012, Ascender students completed their college-level English course at an average rate of 85%, compared to 30% of underprepared students in Texas. 

Students in the program successfully complete Composition I at an average rate of 20 points higher than their peers at their respective colleges.

Ascender students graduate in four-year at a rate of 39%, compared to their Texas Latino peers graduating at a 27% rate.