Ascend was established in 2013 under the name Enterprise Student Partnership Program.
Its creation was sparked by the Colorado State University System Venture Capital Fund sponsored by the CSU Board of Governors to support innovation and promote collaboration in higher education. Its creator was Amy Parsons, CSU's Vice President for Operations. Her initial proposal was to enroll companies as “students” so they could benefit from the vast opportunities at Colorado State University. This idea is explained in her original proposal:
The Enterprise Student Partnership Program would launch a new product into the marketplace and create an entirely new student population, and associated revenue stream, for the CSU System. Through this Program, we would enroll entire entities – private corporations, nonprofit organizations, government units, etc. – as students of the Program. By enrolling as a “students” in the Program, the entity purchases a comprehensive suite of educational services and opportunities to engage in the life of the universities, as though it were an individual student.
Equipped with funding and an innovative idea, Amy hired a two-person team to bring this concept to life. Jeremy Podany was hired as the program's director and Arthur Sintas as the business and program developer. Together they worked with and listened to organizations large and small, across Colorado to create a program tailored to the needs of the business and non-profit communities. Also in this time, they developed partnerships within the Colorado State University Fort Collins campus to bring exceptional offerings to the forefront of the program. The culmination was the creation of a holistic experience designed to elevate the employee experience through the bundling of the best of Colorado State University.
That experience was named, Ascend: Elevating Organizations.