April 24, 2017, BY Andy Hirsch

freas hall
Freas Hall is home to the Bucknell University Office of Admissions. Photo by Tony Fornataro ’73, P’05

Bucknell University has affirmed its commitment to economic diversity within its student body by joining the American Talent Initiative (ATI). The initiative comprises 68 institutions of higher learning united by their goals of enhancing efforts to recruit, enroll and support lower-income students, learning from each other and contributing to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity. (Click here for a list of ATI members.)

"We are committed to expanding access to a Bucknell education for smart, talented students, regardless of their financial need," said Bucknell President John Bravman, a first-generation college student. "I was able to attend college only through the support of financial aid, and I deeply appreciate the transformation such an experience has on one's life. That is why increasing financial aid resources is a top priority of our WE DO Campaign, and will remain a principal focus of ours moving forward. I am proud to have Bucknell counted among the institutions that are part of this important initiative."

Launched in December 2016, the American Talent Initiative is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and was founded with a national goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students by 2025 at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. Based on the most recent federal data available, there are approximately 430,000 lower-income students enrolled at these 270 institutions.

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
  • Minimizing or eliminating gaps in progression and graduation rates between and among students from low-, moderate- and high-income families

Bucknell 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 ATI's goal of 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025.

ATI is co-managed by the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R and 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.