Allegheny College is now part of an alliance of some of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities working to expand the number of academically talented low- and moderate-income students who have access to higher education.
Called the American Talent Initiative, the effort launched in December 2016 with the aim of educating an additional 50,000 high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025. Membership in the alliance is limited to institutions with six-year graduation rates above 70 percent; Allegheny is one of 38 new members of the 68-member group.
“We are delighted to join the American Talent Initiative,” Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr., said. “Allegheny College has long been committed to inclusion and academic achievement so students of all backgrounds can excel. Our participation in ATI reaffirms our commitment to an attainable Allegheny education and ensures talented students can fulfill their potential.”
Committed to Access
The initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, bolsters other, ongoing work Allegheny has undertaken to increase access to higher education for low- and moderate-income students and to better support those students, from before they arrive on campus to after graduation. Those efforts include the Access Allegheny Scholars Program, a program designed to improve the first year college experience of traditionally underrepresented or underserved students, including but not limited to first-generation college students, and the opening of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice (IDEAS) Center and the Allegheny Gateway, where students can access résumé and career services, pre-professional and graduate school advising, research funding and fellowships, internship opportunities, and more.
Other efforts include the creation of student groups aimed at advocating for and supporting traditionally underrepresented or underserved students; the adoption of a test-optional policy aimed at lowering barriers to access; and changes to the first-year and transfer student orientation program to better address the needs and concerns of traditionally underrepresented or underserved students.
Charting a Path Forward
Research shows that when high-achieving, lower-income students attend these institutions, they graduate at higher rates, and access to those institutions provides them with a much greater chance of attaining leadership positions and opportunity throughout their lives. Yet in each graduating high school class, there are at least 12,500 lower-income young people with outstanding academic credentials who do not enroll at institutions where they have the greatest likelihood of graduating.
To address that challenge, Cornell LeSane II, Allegheny’s vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions, has convened a small working group of faculty and administrators who will report on how the college will continue to foster access to talented low-income students and how it will measure success.
Allegheny and other ATI members will share lessons and data as the group works toward reaching 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 measurable progress and share that knowledge with member institutions.
About Allegheny College
One of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges, Allegheny College celebrated its bicentennial in 2015. A selective residential college in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” Allegheny College is known nationally as a place where students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel.