Rhode Island School of Design Joins Growing Alliance of Colleges Working Nationally To Expand Access and Opportunites for 50,000 Talented Low-And Moderate-Income Students

American Talent Initiative brings together 69 of nation’s most respected colleges and universities committed to attracting, enrolling, and graduating more high-achieving, lower-income students

WASHINGTON, D.C. AND NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has joined sixty-eight of the nation’s top-performing 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, called the American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions united in a shared goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students across the country. Each ATI member institution will enhance its 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 effectively serve lower-income students. (See below for a list of ATI members.)

“Rhode Island School of Design is so proud to be part of the American Talent Initiative, sharing in the commitment to expand educational access and opportunities for lower income students. As the only art and design school in the ATI consortium, we are steadfast in our resolve that the most talented students have access to our unique form of education,” noted RISD President Rosanne Somerson. “An art and design education builds critical competencies: creative thinking; the ability to see, perceive and solve problems differently; a capacity to reframe existing paradigms and structures; and the ability to thrive through change and uncertainty. These learning outcomes allow students to become cultural leaders and business innovators. Developing leadership now for the changes in population, culture, and the very ways that work will be produced means educating students from all economic backgrounds, so that the biases of the past will be overcome by the talent of the future.”

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 at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025. Based on the most recent federal data available, there are approximately 430,000 lower-income students enrolled at these 270 institutions. ATI aims to increase and sustain the total number of lower-income students attending these top-performing colleges to about 480,000 by 2025. To reach this ambitious goal, ATI will work to support its members’ work while adding more top-performing colleges to its membership in the coming months and years.

RISD recognizes that America’s top-performing colleges have an important role to play in this effort. Research shows that when high-achieving, lower-income students attend high-performing institutions such as RISD, they graduate at higher rates, and have a greater chance of attaining leadership positions and other opportunities 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.

These students have earned the opportunity these institutions offer. The member institutions of American Talent Initiative seek to ensure that these “missing” students have a path to attend and thrive at the institutions with the highest-graduation rates and best track records for post-graduate success. Each college and university participating in the American Talent Initiative will further the national goal of developing more talent through its own strategies, which include:

  • Recruiting students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds through robus 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.

While many ATI member institutions have existing efforts to support lower-income students on their campuses, what sets RISD and other members’ ATI-related work apart is the commitment to working collectively towards a shared national goal and creating a “community of practice” where members convene regularly to share insights and lessons learned. Member institutions of the American Talent Initiative are also committing substantial resources to increase opportunity for lower-income students, as well as collecting institutional data which will be annually published to assess their aggregate progress toward meeting the 50,000-by-2025 national goal.

This initiative 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. A publication focusing on financial strategies to bolster lower-income student success was made available in February 2017 on the ATI website. New ATI research on increasing opportunity for the incredible talent found across our nation’s community colleges will be published later this year.

American Talent Initiative Participating Institutions as of September 7, 2017

  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Allegheny College
  • Amherst College
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Baylor University
  • Brown University
  • Bucknell University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carleton College
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Colby College
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Davidson College
  • Dickinson College
  • Duke University
  • Elizabethtown College
  • Fordham University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Georgetown University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Gettysburg College
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kenyon College
  • Lafayette College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lebanon Valley College
  • Lehigh University
  • Marist College
  • New York University
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Rutgers University
  • Saint Michael’s College
  • Smith College
  • Spelman College
  • Stanford University
  • Swarthmore College
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Denver
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Wofford College
  • Yale University