Initiative Launched to Expand College Access for Low-Income Students

An alliance of thirty colleges and universities and Bloomberg Philanthropies have announced an initiative to expand access to college for high-achieving low- and middle-income students.

A collaboration with the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, the American Talent Initiative will work to increase by fifty thousand the number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled at two hundred and seventy institutions with six-year graduation rates of at least 70 percent by 2025. In the initiative's initial phase, the thirty founding member schools — Ivy League, flagship state schools, and private universities and liberal arts colleges — will enhance their own efforts to recruit and support lower-income students, learn from each other, and contribute to research that helps other colleges and universities expand opportunity for low- and middle-income students.

To that end, the participating institutions will recruit students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and work to ensure that lower-income students are retained through proven practices, prioritize need-based financial aid, and close gaps in progression and graduation rates between and among students from low-, moderate-, and high-income families. Participating institutions also will share proven and promising strategies as well as institutional data, while the Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R will examine and report on practices that lead to measurable progress.

The program is a companion effort to Bloomberg Philanthropies' CollegePoint initiative, which uses virtual advising to guide high-achieving low- to moderate-income students through the college admissions process.

"Talented young people live in every neighborhood and zip code," said Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College and a member of the initiative's Steering Committee. "It serves our national interest to offer these individuals every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential, yet many from less advantaged backgrounds do not believe that college is an option for them. By aggressively seeking out more of these talented young people and supporting them through graduation, ATI partners will immeasurably enrich our campus communities as we enable our country to compete and thrive in an increasingly complex global environment."

For a complete list of participating colleges and universities, see the ATI website.