Holy Cross Joins Partnership of Top Colleges Working to Add More Lower-Income, First-Generation Students

American Talent Initiative brings together more than 100 of nation’s top-performing colleges and universities

College of the Holy Cross has joined some of the nation’s top colleges and universities in an alliance to substantially expand the number of talented lower-income and first-generation students at America’s undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in a shared goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students across the country by 2025. ATI aims to increase the total number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled at these institutions from about 480,000 to 530,000 by 2025.

Each college and university participating in ATI identifies its own strategies to contribute to the collective goal. Over the coming months, Holy Cross will develop action plans to recruit more students from economically diverse backgrounds, increase the rate at which they apply for financial aid, and ensure they continue to graduate at a high rate. Holy Cross is committed to supporting these students socially, academically, and financially, from before they arrive on campus to graduation and beyond.

“Too often young people with the talent and desire to attend college are discouraged by the barriers, real and perceived, present in our higher education system,” said Holy Cross Provost Margaret Freije. “As educators, we must do all we can to reach out to lower-income and first-generation students and break down those barriers. Holy Cross is proud to join the American Talent Initiative and other colleges and universities committed to those shared goals.”

ATI, which welcomed its first members in December 2016, works with institutions across the country that graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years—a threshold that just under 300 colleges achieve. Holy Cross has a 92 percent six-year graduation rate.

While many ATI member institutions have existing efforts to support lower-income students on their campuses, what sets Holy Cross and other members’ ATI-related work apart is that they are working collectively toward a common national goal and creating a community of practice where members convene regularly to share best practices and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities effectively serve lower-income students.

ATI is co-managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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