4 Live Events | Hands-On Projects | Practical Skills Training

Training Young Adults
to Thrive through
Project-Based Higher Education

4 Live Events | Hands-On Projects | Career or College Tracks

Training Young Adults
to Thrive through
Project-Based Education

4 Live Events | Hands-On Projects
Practical Skills Training

Training Young Adults
to Thrive through
Project-Based Higher Education

As Seen In

Culture is Failing Young Adults

Culture is Failing Young Adults

Culture teaches young adults that failure is fatal and that purpose is only found in fame, fortune, or power. 

Culture teaches young adults that failure is fatal and that purpose is only found in fame, fortune, or power. 

Ascend™ is Different

Ascend™ is Different

Ascend trains young adults to thrive by teaching them to own their purpose, serve others, build healthy relationships, and live resiliently in the real world, for the glory of God. 

Ascend trains young adults to thrive by teaching them to own their purpose, serve others, build healthy relationships, and live resiliently in the real world, for the glory of God. 

Ascend Guides

Meet Ascend program course instructors, event speakers, and webinar hosts

How it Works

Ascend consists of four pieces: Ascend Events, Ascend Tracks, Ascend Projects, and the Ascend Community.  

Ascend Events

Ascend Events train students to thrive by connecting them with each other in a team environment, teaching them practical skills and resilience, challenging them to achieve more than they think is possible through hands-on projects, and training them in leadership and relational skills.

Ascend Tracks

Ascend Tracks are the deep learning part of Ascend where students choose a certificate, specialty, or degree track. Tracks teach the academic and vocational skills that equip students for life, and they define each student’s curriculum and study schedule.

Ascend Projects

Ascend Projects are the core of the Ascend program and connect live events and tracks with hands-on experience in fields that students are interested in. Everything students learn at events and in their tracks find its focus and expression in their projects.

Ascend Community

The Ascend Community is the heart of the Ascend experience and makes the Events, Tracks, and Projects come to life. Students consistently rate the personal community and professional network they gain through Ascend as their favorite part of the program.

“The leadership training and opportunity for my son has been excellent. It is impacting his career and ministry plans. The relationships he has formed are also very impactful.”
Tracy R., Ascend Parent

THE EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE

What are the Results?

When an Ascend student completes the third and final year of the program, having successfully earned each Ascend certificate, they graduate with the official Ascend employment guarantee. We do not believe a successful Ascend student will graduate from our program, move into the job market, and not be able to find work. If we’re wrong? All your money back, guaranteed. 

Click here to read the Ascend employment guarantee.

How to Get Started

How to Get Started

How to Get Started

STEP 1

Book an
Admissions Call

The admissions process for Ascend starts with a consultation call. The purpose of this first call is pretty basic and intended to find out what you and your student are currently doing or planning to do for post-high school training compared to what you think an ideal situation would look like so we can see what the gap is and if we can help. And afterwards, if you feel this might be what you’re looking for, your counselor will book a call for you and your student to connect with an Ascend parent who’s student has already been through the program.

STEP 2

Enroll
in Ascend

After your initial call with your counselor and your connection call with an Ascend parent, you will reconnect with your counselor to complete enrollment. On your enrollment call, you will complete two steps with your counselor: payment for a $1,000 deposit and, if applicable, scheduling an academic coaching call. After enrollment, you will receive a form in your inbox to complete your student’s profile. Your student’s academic coach will provide all the details they needs for their upcoming academic and life courses.

STEP 3

Team Assignment
& Access to Slack

At the beginning of the Ascend year in August, your student will receive their Ascend Team assignment and get access to our private chat platform, Slack. Slack is where your student will connect with the rest of the class, their Ascend Team Leader (ATL), and Unbound staff. Ascend Teams are comprised of 8-10 other Ascend students and led by an ATL. All ATLs are 2nd or 3rd year Ascend students or Ascend alumni who have not only completed 1-3 years in the program but are also completing additional training in coaching and mentorship.

STEP 4

Attend
APEX

All students, new and returning, start their Ascend year at APEX where they meet their Ascend Team and Ascend Team Leader (ATL). APEX takes place in August in North Carolina and serves as a program orientation for new students, a recognition event for returning students, and a reunion for Unbound alumni.

While every APEX is unique, you can expect to find world-class speakers, alumni speakers, extensive team challenges, recreational activities, deep discussions, and friends, old and new. 

To check out this year’s APEX click here. To see what APEX looks like you can check out the most recent recap video here.

STEP 5

Team Meetings
& SME Webinars

As soon as students return home from APEX, they’ll begin to get ready for Basecamp, the next event on the Ascend calendar. 

Students work together as a team to develop their team name and write a team ethos statement between APEX and Basecamp.

During this time, students will begin to attend live monthly webinars with subject matter experts from varied careers and professional backgrounds. They will also meet once a month with their Ascend team to discuss the webinars, set personal and educational goals for the year, and discuss their courses and projects.

STEP 6

Courses & Project Brainstorming

As the fall kicks off, students begin brainstorming their Ascend Project and start their courses (beginning with Unbound’s life purpose course, Navigate.) Depending on whether your student is enrolled on the certificate, specialty, or degree path, they will also begin their first general education course or the first Signature Leadership Course (a 3-course leadership series that all first year students complete across any track).

STEP 7

Attend
Basecamp

Basecamp takes place in early November and is designed to deepen team relationships, connect students to each other in preparation for the upcoming project challenges of Ridgeline, and teach students to thrive by focusing on the topics of failure and resilience. 

Basecamp is held in Virginia and is designed to be more challenging and personal than APEX. Basecamp begins with the teams presenting their names and ethos statements to the rest of Ascend. Each day is a combination of sessions, team challenges, free time, and deep discussion. By the end of Basecamp, team identities and personalities will begin to take shape and connections will deepen into friendships.

Click here to watch the recap video for Basecamp 2023/2024!

STEP 8

Project
Brainstorming

By the end of Basecamp, students will have completed training in time and task management and will understand core truths about how to build healthy relationships. Perhaps most importantly for their immediate future, they will understand how to deal with failure, how to develop and practice resilience, and how to live on the other side of fear. 

They will need all of those skills because the end of Basecamp triggers the acceleration of Ascend Projects. 

In the fall semester, students learn to brainstorm, develop, and plan their Ascend project. Leading up to Ridgeline at the beginning of the spring semester, students will submit their initial project proposal to their ATL and, once they receive final approval, be ready to start executing in January.

STEP 9

Attend
Ridgeline

In January, the spring semester kicks off at Ridgeline. Ridgeline is held in Florida and is nothing like the other events. Ridgeline isn’t about learning by hearing; Ridgeline is about learning by doing. Here, no presenter is on stage for more than twenty minutes.

Team challenges reach their peak intensity during Ridgeline and are designed to teach the skills needed to turn ideas into reality as students launch the execution phase of their Ascend projects.

On the first day of Ridgeline, students are given a challenge that will require brainstorming an idea, planning it, and then executing it. Ascend staff and invited experts will be embedded with students at the event, where they will teach, coach, challenge, and assist the students as they deal with tight deadlines, limited resources, and high expectations. 

STEP 10

Project
Execution

After coming through the challenges and intensity of Ridgeline, students move into the execution phase for their individual Ascend projects.

Academic intensity increases during these next 12 weeks as students complete the next two Signature Leadership courses leading into Capstone.

By this point in the year, teams feel like families, students feel like they have known each other all their lives, and everyone’s expectations of what is possible have radically shifted. Team conversations are loaded with inside jokes, most of the memes shared on student platforms only make sense to other Ascend students, and relationships have grown and deepened through shared experiences and time spent together. 

A week after Ridgeline, almost every Ascend student will be able to tell you exactly how many days are left until Capstone.

STEP 11

Attend
Capstone

Capstone takes place in April in the Colorado Rockies. This event is primarily academic and reflective. Students will need their notebooks as Capstone content alternates between Dr. Jeff Myer’s live lectures and Ascend sessions on reflection, hope, and how to lock in this past year’s training. 

Learning is intense, but there is still time for hikes in the mountains, long conversations in the lodge, and an opportunity to work together one last time through the team challenges. 

Mostly, though, Capstone is about individual stories in the context of God’s greater story. Students learn how to see the narrative arc of life and have the chance to share their own story, hear new stories, and reflect on shared experiences. Capstone typically brings back alumni from years past who volunteer to help and mentor current students and pass on stories that have built the culture of Ascend.

Click here to watch the recap video for Capstone 2022/2023!

STEP 12

Complete
Projects, Courses, & Certificates

From Capstone until the end of the school year in early June,  Ascend Teams hold their final meetings, students complete their projects through a peer review, final reports, and presentations at the online Ascend Project Showcase, the academic year concludes, and summer begins.

For all students who complete each aspect of the program, they will earn two high-level certificates in leadership and professional development. These certificates will set your student apart from their traditionally educated peers and ahead in the job market.

The next event on the Ascend calendar is APEX. When APEX arrives this time, it is an event focused on recognition and reunion for returning students.

While Ascend events carry similar themes and content year-to-year , second and third year students attend advanced sessions, designed to build on each previous year.

Ascend students who complete all three years will end up attending twelve unique events, each making a distinct impact.

Request More Information About Ascend

Sign up to receive 5 emails in 5 days that explain how Ascend works and how your student can get started.

Request More Information About Ascend

Sign up to receive 5 emails in 5 days that explain how Ascend works and how your student can get started.

Enroll Today

$1,000 deposit required at enrollment. Installment plans paid over 12 months starting the month following your enrollment.

$1,000 deposit required at enrollment.
Paid in full and installment plans (paid over 12 months) available.

Art
Track


0, 9, or 15 college credits
$803+/month
  • Everything included in the Certificate Track
  • Learn to make money through your art medium, whatever that may be
  • Learn how to seek out resources, develop an achievable plan to improve your craft, and consistently level-up your skills
  • Develop a strong theology of art
  • Learn to be a healthy artist: develop emotional resilience, avoid burnout, and create sustainable habits
  • Receive customized coaching and feedback from an art professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded artists
  • Apply what you learn through a hands-on project or internship

Film
Track


0, 9, or 15 college credits
$803+/month
  • Everything included in the Certificate Track
  • Substantially improve your videography skills through practical, hands-on instruction about storytelling, production, and editing
  • Receive customized feedback and instruction from a video professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded videographers
  • Complete a robust set of hands-on projects, including professional videos for YouTube and Social Media, event recap videos, and/or documentaries
  • Develop a portfolio of completed projects
  • Apply what you learn through a hands-on project or internship

Certificate
Path

$616/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $9,235 paid in full

Still Deciding
Path

9 or 15 College Credits
$650 or $720/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $9,755 or $10,785 paid in full

Debt-Free
Degree Path

30 College Credits
$857/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $12,845 paid in full

Optional Specialty Tracks

Give your student the training they need to monetize their creative interests!

Available for students enrolling on the Certificate Path or Still Deciding Path.
Prices listed are the additional fee for adding a track to your student’s enrollment.
Give your student the training they need to monetize their creative interests!

Available for students enrolling on the Certificate Path or Still Deciding Path.
Prices listed are the additional fee for adding a track to your student’s enrollment.

Writing Track

$1,250
  • Learn what it takes to be a part-time or full-time professional writer (regardless of genre!) through instruction and resources
  • Work under, and receive personalized feedback from, a professional writing mentor and publishing coach
  • Learn from real-world writing experts, agents, publishers, and award-winning authors
  • Learn the nuances of how to identify and write for your audience, the financial side of writing and how to make a living, methods of publication and more!
  • Develop skills, tools, and a business plan for your writing career while also polishing aspects of craft
  • Apply what you learn by creating a business plan in the form of a written proposal, which will prepare you for either self or traditional publishing

Art Track

$1,250
  • Learn to make money from your art medium, whatever that may be
  • Learn how to seek out resources, develop an achievable plan to improve your craft, and consistently level-up your skills
  • Develop a strong theology of art
  • Learn how to be a healthy artist: develop emotional resilience, avoid burnout, and create sustainable habits
  • Receive customized coaching and feedback from an art professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded artists
  • Apply what you learn through a hands-on project or internship

Videography Track

$1,250
  • Substantially improve your videography skills through practical, hands-on instruction about storytelling, production, and editing.
  • Receive customized feedback and instruction from a video professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded videographers
  • Apply what you learn through a robust set of hands-on projects, including professional videos for YouTube and Social Media, event recap videos, and/or documentaries
  • Develop a portfolio of completed projects
  • Complete a guaranteed internship with Unbound’s media team or with another organization of your choice

Hear from Parents

Hear from Parents

Hear from Students

Hear from Students

Ready to Get Started?

Schedule a call with admissions to get your questions answered and find out if Ascend is the right fit for your student.

FAQ

FAQ

APEX is held in Brevard, NC, August 11-15.

Basecamp is held in late October/early November with location TBD.

An all-new Ascend event will be held January 20-24 in Florida.

Capstone is held in Estes Park, CO April 20-24.

All dates and locations are subject to slight changes.

Ascend Teams are led by Ascend Team Leaders (ATLs). ATLs are Ascend alumni or older students who have applied for, been accepted, and are specifically trained to lead a team. ATLs complete ongoing training throughout the program as well that enables them to continue building and improving their leadership skills.

Ascend teams meet monthly via Zoom to discuss the monthly webinar, support each other through their courses and projects, and receive coaching and mentorship from their ATLs specific to where they are in life and what kinds of decisions they are facing.

Each Ascend Team includes 8-10 students and one Ascend Team Leader.

Webinars are held a set time each month. Typically, they are scheduled for 7:30pm EST on the second Tuesday evening of the month. Webinars are also recorded and made available to students following the live presentation. However, students are required to attend at least 6 webinars live.

Past Ascend students have:

  • Planned and hosted a fundraiser masquerade ball for a local anti-human trafficking organization, raising $52k. Click here to watch the story.
  • Wrote, filmed, and produced a short-film to raise awareness for depression. Click here to watch the film.
  • Built a skin-on canoe for a four-day river trip.
  • Trained for and ran a Tough Mudder obstacle course. Click here to watch the story.
  • Organized and ran Bible study intensives for their local communities.
  • Built and launched a local pet and house-sitting business.
  • Choreographed, performed, and recorded a dance piece depicting the story of Revelation 11:3–13.
  • Hosting an outdoor survival camp for 5–6 young men, teaching the four essentials of wilderness survival.
  • Studied for and obtained their Real Estate license.

And many more!

It depends on the project. We have students complete individual and team projects every year and both are options.

This depends entirely on the student. Each year we have a mix students who are finishing high school or already graduated. The best way to determine if your student can manage Ascend alongside high school is to talk to an admissions counselor about the time commitment. Click here to book a call!

While ultimately it comes down to each individual student and their schedule, the vast majority of Ascend students work part or full time while completing the program. 

Of course! While Ascend is not first and foremost a gap year program, it is designed with easy exit points after each year. 

Enrollment in Ascend starts at $7,995 during Early Enrollment. Tuition covers your student’s Ascend Team, Ascend Project, monthly coaching and webinars, registration to four live events plus travel to the first, access to the online Navigate life purpose course, registration for the online Signature Leadership Course Series, and daily access to their coach, teammates, fellow students, and program staff via Slack.

We do offer installment plans that allow you to pay for Ascend in up to 14 installments depending on how early you enroll. 

As Seen or Heard On

hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education
hear about project-based education

Keep Exploring

The Be Unbound Podcast teaches young adults and their parents how to ask the right questions, take action, and understand key truths that will enable them to live well, by showcasing conversations with guests who display what it looks like to be extraordinary at the ordinary.

Episode Highlights:

  • Steve Demme: Learning to Wait on the Lord – Listen Now
  • Stuart McAllister: Hope & Apologetics in a Post-Truth Culture – Listen Now
  • Sarah Shaw: Illustrating the Invisible – Listen Now

The Be Unbound YouTube channel shares actionable tips for students and chronicles the adventures of Unbound students and alumni.

Video Highlights:

Read what’s happening in higher education and informed commentary on the topics of life preparation, education, and Christian leadership.

Article Highlights:

  • 50% of Parents Aren’t Sending Their Child to College, Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing – Read Now
  • Redefining Adulthood: Challenging the Prolonged Adolescence Narrative – Read Now
  • How to Prepare for Life Without College Debt – Read Now

Thank you! Check your email for a message from us.

Watch an Unbound Event Recap
& Hear from Andrew Pudewa

Get a FREE Guide to Ascend

Read the full, definitive guide to the Ascend program and learn how to get your student’s journey started. This eBook explains what Ascend is, how it works, what academic opportunities are included, and what the community experience is like.

Name