The American Talent Initiative (ATI) was founded in 2016 on the belief that high-graduation-rate institutions can collectively expand access for tens of thousands of high-achieving, lower-income students across the country. When lower-income students attend these institutions, we know that they are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, leading to stronger wages and better job prospects throughout their lives.
While gaps in access to the nation’s leading colleges pre-dated the pandemic, these disparities have only widened in the past year for lower-income students and their families. At the same time, the pandemic and economic crisis have tested the ability of higher education institutions nationwide to serve their students and expand access. As we look to move forward as a nation, ATI’s goal to increase socioeconomic diversity — by enrolling, supporting, and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025 at our nation’s high-graduation rate institutions — is more important than ever.
Committing to Aspirational Goals
Before and during the pandemic, ATI members that have increased lower-income student enrollment have leaders that prioritize and put resources behind their commitments to expanded opportunity (read about ATI progress to date here). To address both the pre-COVID and COVID-era declines in Pell enrollment, the ATI steering committee asked all ATI presidents to reaffirm their commitment to the 50,000-by-2025 goal.
This effort is called the “Accelerating Opportunity campaign,” mobilizing members to pledge to public, aspirational goals related to increasing lower-income student enrollment:
- Members with a lower-income enrollment share below 15 percent will aim for an ambitious goal between 15 and 20 percent by 2025, or an equally ambitious increase in the number of lower-income students by 2025.
- Members with a lower-income student enrollment share between 15 and 20 percent will make measurable progress toward a 20 percent share of lower-income student enrollment or an equally ambitious increase in the number of lower-income students by 2025.
- Members with a lower-income student enrollment share above 20 percent will aim to at least maintain opportunity for lower-income students at current levels, if not expand enrollment by 2025.
- All members, regardless of lower-income share, aim to minimize equity-based graduation gaps by 2025.
Select Institutional Commitments
125 Institutions have joined the Accelerating Opportunity campaign, signing a commitment to support these goals.
as of June 30, 2021