Brown joins alliance working to expand access for talented low-income students

The American Talent Initiative brings together 68 of nation’s most respected colleges and universities committed to attracting, enrolling and graduating more high-achieving, lower-income students.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University has joined 67 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities in an alliance to substantially expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

This growing alliance, the American Talent Initiative (ATI), brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in this common goal. ATI members will enhance their own efforts to recruit, enroll and support lower-income students, learn from each other and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity.

“Universities have the potential to level the economic playing field for college students, regardless of the financial circumstances of their families," said President Christina Paxson. “At Brown, we're proud to join forces with our peers across America who share a common vision for greater socioeconomic diversity and equality of opportunity in higher education.”

Launched in December 2016 with a $1.7 million, multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, ATI is working toward a national goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025. Based on the most recent federal data available, approximately 430,000 lower-income students are currently enrolled at these institutions. To reach its goal, ATI aims to continually add more top-performing colleges to its membership.

Brown’s participation in ATI complements an expanding array of programs and initiatives aimed at enrolling a larger share of low- and moderate-income students. For more than 15 years, Brown’s undergraduate admission process has been need-blind, meaning inability to pay toward the cost of attendance is never a deterrent to admission. And the University meets the full demonstrated financial need of all enrolled undergraduates.

Just this month, the University announced plans to automatically waive the application fee for low-income students, beginning with the class entering in fall 2018; Brown has long honored all fee waiver requests based on financial hardship, but the new program eliminates the need for students to ask. Earlier this year, Brown opened one of the country’s first dedicated centers for first-generation and low-income students, which now serves as a vital resource for these students.

Each of those actions came in the context of an ambitious action plan to create a more diverse and inclusive academic community, launched in February 2016. The comprehensive plan identified the need for greater socioeconomic diversity on campus as critical to Brown’s continued ability to fulfill its academic mission.

By joining the ATI, Brown and the 67 other colleges and universities have committed to furthering the initiative’s national goal of developing more talent from every American neighborhood 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.

Brown and other ATI members will share lessons learned as well as institutional data, and throughout the coming years will annually publish their aggregate 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 nonprofit organizations coordinating the initiative, will study the practices that lead to measurable progress and share that knowledge with field through regular publications.

A complete list of participating institutions is available here.