UW News

December 13, 2016

UW is founding member of alliance to expand access and opportunity for 50,000 students from lower- and middle-income families

The University of Washington joins 30 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities Tuesday in a new initiative to substantially expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s top-performing undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

The American Talent Initiative (ATI), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in this common goal. They are enhancing their own efforts to support lower- and middle-income students, learn from each other, and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity.

“Helping students from modest means gain the education and experiences they need for success in their lives and careers is central to our mission at the University of Washington,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “We’re proud to join the American Talent Initiative, sharing what we’ve learned in Washington and learning from our colleagues, all with the goal of helping more students achieve their full potential. Access to excellence – it’s what we’re committed to at the UW, and we’re proud to join with colleges and universities that share the same commitment.”

Aiming to welcome more of the 270 institutions with graduation rates of 70 percent or higher over the next few years, the members of the American Talent Initiative have set a goal to attract, enroll and graduate 50,000 additional high-achieving students at those 270 colleges and universities by 2025.

In the mid-20th century — with the G.I. Bill, the Higher Education Act and Civil Rights Act — the nation invested in and opened access to higher education for its citizens, characterizing a college degree as a path to success. Today, that degree is more critical than ever, and it’s incumbent upon educational institutions of all types to ensure that talented students from every part of society have access to an excellent education.

The UW recognizes that America’s top-performing colleges have an important role to play in this effort. Research shows that when high-achieving, lower-income students attend these institutions, they graduate at higher rates, and access to those institutions provides them with a much greater chance of attaining leadership positions and opportunity throughout their lives.

“If we’re serious about promoting social mobility in America, we need to ensure that every qualified high school student in the US has an opportunity to attend college,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “I’m so glad that so many great colleges and universities have stepped up today and committed themselves towards that goal. This is a vital first step towards creating a more meritocratic society.”

The UW is committed to the national goal of developing more talent from every American neighborhood by ensuring that admitted lower- and moderate-income students enroll and progress to graduation through practices that have been shown to be effective; prioritizing need-based financial aid; and minimizing or eliminating gaps in progression and graduation rates between and among students from low-, moderate- and high-income families.

ATI members will share lessons learned as well as institutional data, annually publishing their progress toward meeting the national goal of 50,000 additional lower- income students by 2025. The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, the two not-for-profit organizations coordinating the initiative, will study the practices that lead to measureable progress and disseminate knowledge to the field through regular publications.

Member institutions of the American Talent Initiative are committing substantial resources to attract, enroll, and graduate students at their individual campuses. This initiative is co-managed by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R and funded with an initial $1.7 million, multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Grant funding will be used for best-practice research and dissemination, meetings of college presidents and staff, and data analysis and reporting.

Participating Institutions

Amherst College Spelman College
Bates College Stanford University
Davidson College University of California, Berkeley
Dartmouth College University of California, Los Angeles
Duke University University of Maryland, College Park
Franklin & Marshall College University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Georgetown University University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Georgia Institute of Technology University of Richmond
Harvard University University of Texas at Austin
Johns Hopkins University University of Washington
Lehigh University Vanderbilt University
The Ohio State University Vassar College
Pomona College Washington University in St. Louis
Princeton University Williams College
Rice University Yale University

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For media inquiries, contact Victor Balta at 206-543-2580 or balta@uw.edu.