Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a new initiative to boost the number of high-achieving students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds who apply to and graduate from top colleges and universities.
Despite their qualifications, fewer than half of such students apply to top-rated schools, even though when they do apply they are accepted and graduate at the same rates as their wealthier peers. The initiative is aimed at boosting the share of high-achieving lower-income students in the U.S. who enroll at competitive colleges and universities to at least 50 percent, up from 33 percent, within five years. Additional funding for the initiative after the first two years will depend on results.
With an initial investment of $10 million over two years from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the initiative will help as many as sixty-five thousand students apply to, enroll in, and graduate from competitive schools that have high graduation rates and robust financial aid policies. The initiative also will work to effect changes in higher education policies and practices that enable more lower-income students to enroll and graduate.
With advisory support and an additional $1 million over two years from the Heckscher Foundation for Children, the initiative will match advisors from the College Advising Corps, College Possible, and Strive for College with high-achieving low- and moderate-income students identified by the College Board and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Other partners in the initiative include Khan Academy, which is developing free high-quality online content on the college application and financial aid process and making it available to students receiving virtual advising; America Achieves, which will develop shared technology tools to strengthen relationships between students and advisors; and the Aspen Institute, which will convene a task force to develop recommendations for how the two hundred and sixty-five colleges and universities with the best graduation rates and financial aid policies can enroll and graduate substantially more high-achieving low- and moderate-income students.
"Many of America's brightest students don't apply to college simply because they lack access to the right information and guidance, particularly students from low- and middle-income families who want to go to competitive colleges but don’t think they can afford it," said Michael R. Bloomberg. "That limits their opportunities and contradicts what we stand for as a society — and it holds us back as a nation because it prevents so many smart young people from contributing to the best of their abilities."