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Johns Hopkins Joins Alliance to Expand College Access For 50,000 Talented Lower-income Students

Thirty high-graduation-rate schools nationwide form American Talent Initiative

December 13, 2016
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The Johns Hopkins University is joining 29 other colleges and universities to expand by at least 50,000 the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at the U.S. undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

The newly formed American Talent Initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions. (See the end of this news release for a list.) Each commits to enhance its efforts to recruit, support and graduate lower-income students; to learn from each other; and to contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity.

“Our nation, our economy, and all our citizens benefit from nurturing talented young people from the broadest pool possible, including every community and socioeconomic background,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins. “The university looks forward to working with our ATI partners to build on innovative initiatives like our Baltimore Scholars Program to ensure students have an opportunity to attend university and realize their full potential.”

The 30 founding members expect more of the 270 U.S. institutions with graduation rates of 70 percent or higher to join ATI over the next few years. The overall goal is to enroll 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at those 270 colleges and universities by 2025, and to help them graduate.

America’s top colleges – which already enroll about 430,000 lower-income students, according to the latest federal data – want to further expand access and success for low- and moderate-income students, ATI leaders said. Research shows that when high-achieving, lower-income students attend these institutions, they graduate at higher rates.

“If we’re serious about promoting social mobility in America, we need to ensure that every qualified high school student in the U.S. has an opportunity to attend college,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York. “I’m so glad that so many great colleges and universities have stepped up today and committed themselves towards that goal. This is a vital first step towards creating a more meritocratic society.”

Johns Hopkins is focused on programs that help students, especially those from first-generation families and low- and moderate-income backgrounds, attend the university and succeed. Recently launched programs and others to be started in coming years are intended to help the university further improve on a six-year graduation rate that already approaches 94 percent.

Earlier this year, the university expanded the goal and extended the time-frame for the Rising to the Challenge Campaign. Johns Hopkins seeks to add $30 million more to the $85 million already raised in endowed undergraduate aid for the Homewood Schools. The overall progress for financial aid – both for endowed and current use, graduate and undergraduate – is $488 million.

The university also announced a restructured Baltimore Scholars Program. Under the new terms, admitted Baltimore city public school graduates with family incomes of $80,000 or less receive full cost-of-attendance scholarships covering tuition, room and board and fees. Family contribution for students with income between $80,000 and $150,000 is capped at 10 percent of family income; these students also receive a loan-free financial aid package.

Additionally, the university has launched programs to help even more students, once admitted, to succeed at Johns Hopkins and reach graduation. The Hop-In program supports any student who needs help with the transition to college, including those who are among the first in their family to go to college or come from high schools with fewer advanced courses. The two-year JUMP program supports students interested in the health professions. HopReach identifies those having academic or other difficulties and connects them with help. It also tracks each intervention to measure success at getting students back on the path to graduation.

As a group, colleges and universities participating in the American Talent Initiative will further the national goal of developing more talent from every American neighborhood by:

  • Recruiting students from diverse socio-economic 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 as well as institutional data, annually publishing their progress toward meeting the national goal of 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025. 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 measureable progress and disseminate knowledge to the field through regular publications.

Catherine Bond Hill, Ithaka S+R’s managing director and former Vassar College president, said that “this initiative speaks to fairness and equal opportunity for thousands of students who currently can’t claim either, and to the enormous societal benefit that comes from nurturing all of our most talented young people. Recent research suggests that at least 12,500 high school seniors per year have SAT scores in the top 10 percent with 3.7 grade point averages or higher – and still do not attend the top 270 colleges. If each of these institutions commits to do its share, an additional 50,000 talented students – 12,500 in each grade level – will benefit from the incredible opportunity these colleges and universities offer and that these students have earned.”

The American Talent Initiative is funded with an initial $1.7 million multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Grant funding will be used for best-practice research and dissemination, convenings of college presidents and staff, and data analysis and reporting.

Participating Institutions
Amherst College Spelman College
Bates College Stanford University
Davidson College University of California, Berkeley
Dartmouth College University of California, Los Angeles
Duke University University of Maryland, College Park
Franklin and Marshall College University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Georgetown University University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Georgia Institute of Technology University of Richmond
Harvard University University of Texas at Austin
Johns Hopkins University University of Washington
Lehigh University Vanderbilt University
The Ohio State University Vassar College
Pomona College Washington University in St. Louis
Princeton University Williams College
Rice University Yale University

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