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04/25/2017 05:55:51

Caltech Joins American Talent Initiative

The growing coalition of colleges is committed to attracting, enrolling, and graduating larger numbers of high-achieving, lower-income students

Caltech has joined 67 other universities and colleges in an alliance to substantially expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at undergraduate institutions with America's highest graduation rates.

The alliance, known as the American Talent Initiative (ATI), brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions that share a common goal to enhance their individual efforts to recruit, enroll, and support lower-income students. There is also a shared understanding that the participating institutions will learn from each other and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity.

"Caltech is pleased to be a part of ATI and partner with the other members of the coalition in providing increased educational opportunities for talented students of limited financial means.   This initiative is aligned with and will support Caltech's commitment to need-blind admissions and meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need," says Joe Shepherd, Caltech's vice president for student affairs.

Originally launched in December 2016 with 30 members, the coalition more than doubled its participating institutions this spring. ATI's overall goal is to bring the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates into the coalition by 2025 and, in doing so, increase the total number of lower-income students attending these institutions by some 50,000 students to about 480,000 undergrads total.

Colleges and universities participating in ATI, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will further the national goal of developing more diverse talent by:

  • recruiting students from diverse socioeconomic 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.

Members will share lessons learned and aggregate institutional data. 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 on the ATI website.

Written by Shayna Chabner McKinney