UW-Madison Announces Ambitious Public Commitment to Educate More High-Achieving Low-Income Students

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is among the first schools to announce public commitments through the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies

Started in December 2016, ATI has grown from 30 to 86 institutions working to attract, enroll, and graduate high achieving, low- and moderate-income college students

[MADISON, WI] – In December, the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced ambitious new plans with goals aimed at supporting these students socially, academically, and financially, from before they arrive on campus to graduation and beyond. UW-Madison is a member of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, which has grown from 30 to 86 top colleges and universities since it launched in December 2016. Each institution is working toward the overall ATI goal of enrolling 50,000 additional talented, low- and moderate-income students at colleges and universities with strong graduation rates.

“America is the world’s greatest meritocracy, but too often a parent’s income still determines a child’s likelihood of attending a great college,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “The American Talent Initiative is aimed at fixing that, and the program’s momentum is building: More top schools are committing to enrolling more talented students from lower-income families and drawing up concrete action plans to make that happen. Their leadership sets a great example for others.”

ATI, which has grown its membership from 30 to 86 colleges and universities in under a year, works with institutions across the country that graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. At this time, approximately 290 colleges and universities nationwide achieve that graduation rate, and the initiative is working to increase the total number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled at these approximately 290 institutions from about 480,000 to 530,000 by 2025. It is a companion effort to the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ CollegePoint initiative.

Together, ATI and CollegePoint are working to address a persistent problem in college access and completion: each year, for a variety of reasons—including lack of information about their options, confusion about costs, and inadequate financial aid offers—tens of thousands of hard-working students with high grades and standardized test scores fail to enroll in our country’s leading institutions. CollegePoint provides guidance to students to help them navigate the college admissions process and connect with the institutions where they are most likely to succeed. At the same time, ATI works across institutions to ensure that campuses can enroll and support lower-income students through to graduation.

As part of its commitment, each member institution works with ATI to develop action plans to recruit more students from economically diverse backgrounds, ensure that admitted lower-income students enroll and engage in campus life, prioritize need-based financial aid, and minimize gaps in progression and graduation rates between students of differing socio-economic backgrounds.

Follow #ActivateTalent on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see how member schools are engaging in this initiative.