Who We Are
The American Talent Initiative (ATI) is a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported collaboration between the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and a growing alliance of colleges and universities dedicated to substantially expanding opportunity and access for low- and moderate-income students. In its first phase, 30 leading Ivy League, state flagship, private universities and liberal arts colleges—all graduating at least 70 percent of their students within six years—have joined together to address this challenge, with a goal of adding as many as possible of these 270 colleges and universities to ATI in the next few years.
ATI is guided by a Steering Committee:
- Ana Mari Cauce, President, University of Washington
- Michael V. Drake, President, The Ohio State University
- Christopher Eisgruber, President, Princeton University
- Martin Kurzweil, Director, Educational Transformation Program, Ithaka S+R
- Daniel R. Porterfield, President, Franklin & Marshall College
- Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College
- Joshua Wyner, Vice President and Executive Director, College Excellence Program, The Aspen Institute
We extend our gratitude to William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland, for his vision and leadership in the design and launch of the American Talent Initiative.
The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve outcomes in student learning, transfer and completion, equity, and labor market success after graduation.
Ithaka S+R is a not-for-profit service that helps the academic community navigate economic and technological change. Our aim is to broaden access to higher education by reducing costs while also improving student outcomes. Ithaka S+R is part of ITHAKA.
The origins of the American Talent Initiative
The American Talent Initiative was inspired by decades of work by individual colleges and universities to expand college opportunity as well as research documenting that tens of thousands of high-achieving, lower-income students are unable to gain access at top colleges and universities.
Inspired by this institutional action, leading research and a deep belief in meritocracy, Bloomberg Philanthropies convened college presidents and higher education thought leaders for multiple conversations about how to address challenges facing high-achieving, lower-income students.
ATI is a direct outgrowth of those conversations and reflects Bloomberg's commitment to finding practical, collaborative, results-oriented, and data-informed solutions to complex challenges. It is a companion effort to the Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported CollegePoint initiative, which provides virtual, high quality college and financial aid advising to thousands of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students across the US.
ATI and CollegePoint rely on research focused on the feasibility and importance of expanding access and opportunity for talented, lower-income students at top colleges and universities, including:
- William G. Bowen, Martin A. Kurzweil, and Eugene M. Tobin, Equity and Excellence in Amiercan Higher Education, University of Virginia Press, 2005.
- Gordon Winston and Catharine Bond Hill, Access to the Most Selective Colleges by High- Ability Low-Income Students: Are They Out There?, (Discussion Paper No. 69). Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education, 2005.
- Joshua S. Wyner, John M. Bridgeland, and John J. DiIulio, Jr., Achievement Trap: How America Is Failing Millions of High Achieving Low-Income Students, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, 2006.
- Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery, The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2013.
The American Talent Initiative Members
In the years to come and under the leadership of our members, ATI aims to maximize its impact by expanding to include as many as possible of the 270 colleges and universities with six-year graduation rates consistently above 70 percent.
*University of California-Merced, University of California-Riverside, University of California-Santa Barbara, and University of Southern California are also members of the American Talent Initiative.