University of Richmond is founding member of American Talent Initiative; focused on expanding access and opportunity

December 13, 2016

The University of Richmond has joined 30 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities in an 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 the nation's most respected public and private institutions united in this common goal. Through their participation in the Initiative, they will enhance their own efforts to recruit and support lower-income students, learn from each other and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity for low-income students. 

“At Richmond, our commitment to being need-blind in admission and meeting the full financial need of all students has helped us to nearly double the number of Pell Grant-eligible students in our entering class over the past ten years,” said Ronald A. Crutcher, president of the University of Richmond.

“The remarkable progress we have made at Richmond in recent years puts us in a position to provide helpful guidance to those who seek similar progress at their own institutions,” Crutcher added. “Working with our partners in ATI, we look forward to developing new and collaborative ways to increase educational opportunity in higher education and to magnifying the powerful benefits of those efforts, for our students, the nation and the world.”

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, lower-income students at those 270 colleges and universities by 2025.

“If we're serious about promoting social mobility in America, we need to ensure that every qualified high school student in the U.S. has an opportunity to attend college. 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," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City.

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 funded with an initial $1.7 million, multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Grant funding will be used for best-practice research and dissemination, convenings of college presidents and staff, and data analysis and reporting.

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