(Posted September 8, 2017)

HUNTINGDON, PAJuniata College has joined 68 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities in an alliance to expand substantially the number of talented low- and moderate-income students attending those undergraduate institutions in the United States that have the highest graduation rates.

This growing alliance, called the American Talent Initiative (ATI), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in this common goal. ATI members will enhance their own efforts to recruit, enroll, and support lower-income students, learn from each other, and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity. (See below for a list of ATI members.)

“Juniata College is committed to serving students facing financial and social challenges while creating a learning environment where they can prosper and achieve their dreams,” says Juniata College President James A. Troha. “We are honored to join with the American Talent Initiative to strengthen efforts and to create opportunity for people from all backgrounds. We are encouraged the alliance understands that barriers to entry are only a part of the challenge, and that an indicator of our collective success will be stronger persistence to graduation.”

Launched in December 2016, the American Talent Initiative was founded with a national goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025. Based on the most recent federal data available, approximately 430,000 lower-income students are enrolled at these 270 institutions.

ATI’s goal is to increase and sustain the total number of lower-income students attending these top-performing colleges to about 480,000 by 2025. To reach its goal, ATI aims to add more top-performing colleges to its membership in the coming years.

"Juniata College is committed to serving students facing financial and social challenges while creating a learning environment where they can prosper and achieve their dreams," says Juniata College President James A. Troha. "We are honored to join with the American Talent Initiative to strengthen efforts and to create opportunity for people from all backgrounds. We are encouraged the alliance understands that barriers to entry are only a part of the challenge, and that an indicator of our collective success will be stronger persistence to graduation."

Juniata is among 12 Pennsylvania colleges and universities that are part of ATI, including Allegheny College, Bucknell University, Dickinson College, Elizabethtown College, Franklin and Marshall College, Gettysburg College, Lafayette College, Lebanon Valley College, Lehigh University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. No public institutions in Pennsylvania are part of the ATI.

Juniata College 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 increases their chance of attaining leadership positions and opportunity throughout their lives. Yet in each graduating high school class, at least 12,500 lower-income young people with outstanding academic credentials do not enroll at institutions where they have the greatest likelihood of graduating.

The students ATI intends to help have earned the opportunity the alliance’s schools offer. For a variety of reasons—including a lack of information about options, confusion about costs, and inadequate financial aid—many students lack access. ATI seeks to ensure these “missing” students have a path to attend and thrive at the institutions with the best graduation rates and track records for post-graduate success.

Colleges and universities participating in ATI will further the national goal of developing more talent from every American neighborhood by:  

  • Recruiting students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds through robust outreach;
  • Ensuring that admitted lower-income students enroll and are retained 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.  

Juniata College and other ATI members will share institutional data and lessons learned. Throughout the coming years, ATI members will publish annually their aggregate 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 measurable progress and share that knowledge through regular publications. The first of these publications focusing on financial strategies to bolster lower-income student success was published in February 2017. ATI’s work is funded with an initial $1.7 million, multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Grant funding will be used for best-practice research and dissemination, convening college presidents and staff and data analysis and reporting.

Current ATI membership includes:

 

American Talent Initiative Participating Institutions as of September 7, 2017

Juniata College

Allegheny College

Rice University

Amherst College

Rutgers University

Bard College

Saint Michael’s College

Bates College

Smith College

Baylor University

Spelman College

Brown University

Stanford University

Bucknell University

Swarthmore College

California Institute of Technology

The Ohio State University

Carleton College

University of California, Berkeley

Claremont McKenna College

University of California, Davis

Colby College

University of California, Irvine

Columbia University

University of California, Los Angeles

Cornell University

University of Denver

Dartmouth College

University of Maryland, College Park

Davidson College

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dickinson College

University of Miami

Duke University

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Elizabethtown College

University of Minnesota

Fordham University

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Franklin & Marshall College

University of Pennsylvania

Georgetown University

University of Richmond

Georgia Institute of Technology

University of South Carolina

Gettysburg College

University of Southern California

Harvard University

University of Texas at Austin

Johns Hopkins University

University of Virginia

Kenyon College

University of Washington

Lafayette College

Vanderbilt University

Lawrence University

Vassar College

Lebanon Valley College

Wake Forest University

Lehigh University

Washington University in St. Louis

Marist College

Wesleyan University

New York University

Williams College

Pomona College

Wofford College

Princeton University

Yale University

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.