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Emory joins American Talent Initiative, aiming to educate more high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students

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Emory joins 100 institutions that are working to attract, enroll and retain high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students, from before they arrive on campus to graduation and beyond.

Emory University announced today that it has joined the American Talent Initiative (ATI), partnering with top-performing institutions to commit to the collective goal of enrolling 50,000 additional talented, low- and moderate-income students at colleges and universities with strong graduation rates by 2025. 

As part of ATI, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, Emory will develop strategies to attract, enroll and support more high-achieving, lower- and moderate-income students from before they arrive on campus to graduation and beyond.

The American Talent Initiative’s goals fit well with Emory’s longstanding commitment to access and affordability, says Emory University President Claire E. Sterk.

“At Emory, we are committed to increasing affordability and to building a talented and genuinely inclusive student body,” Sterk says. “This commitment has long been a hallmark of our community’s shared work. Partnering with ATI offers the perfect alignment of our shared principles, and I look forward to continuing to provide these exceptionally high-achieving students with an outstanding educational experience.” 

Launched in December 2016 with 30 institutions, the ATI now includes 100 institutions. Members must meet the standard of graduating at least 70 percent of their students in six years. Membership in ATI now includes the entire Ivy League, 17 state flagship universities, and private colleges and universities.

“With 20 percent of our undergrads receiving Pell grants, Emory has a deep commitment to access and affordability for students who aspire to graduate from a top tier liberal arts research university,” says John Leach, Emory’s assistant vice provost and director of university financial aid. “Emory looks forward to continuing and expanding its commitment to containing and reducing student debt.” 

“Family income shouldn’t determine a child's chances of attending a top college — but too often, it does,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “That's why we created the American Talent Initiative, and colleges have responded enthusiastically. They recognize that it benefits them as much as it does the students, and the more schools that join, the more it will benefit our country.”

As part of the national effort to increase opportunity for talented, low- and moderate-income students at top-performing colleges and universities, all member institutions are implementing several strategies designed to attract, enroll and graduate such students, including:

  • Identifying talented students through better recruitment of qualified high school graduates and high-achieving transfer students from community colleges and other schools;
  • Increasing the number of applications from Pell-eligible students, the number of Pell-eligible students who are enrolled, and the number of first-generation students enrolled;
  • Prioritizing need-based aid to make attendance more affordable; and
  • Retaining and graduating lower-income students at rates comparable to their higher-income peers.

At this time, approximately 290 colleges and universities nationwide achieve a graduation rate of 70 percent of their students in six years. The initiative aims to increase the total number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled at these institutions by 50,000 — from about 480,000 to 530,000 students — by 2025.

Member institutions of the American Talent Initiative commit substantial resources to increase opportunity for lower-income students, as well as collect institutional data which will be annually published to assess their aggregate progress toward meeting the 50,000-by-2025 national goal.

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