Virginia Tech recently joined more than 100 colleges and universities in an effort expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

American Talent Initiative members share a goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students across the country by 2025.

On Feb. 5, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands met with more than 100 presidents and provosts at a summit to explore best practices to reach their common goal.

“Virginia Tech’s commitment to this effort is directly aligned with our goals to attract talented students and increase affordability for students from low- and middle-income families,” Sands said.

President Sands at reception
President Sands (right) speaks with David B. Johnson, vice provost for Enrollment Management at Indiana University, Bloomington. Provided: American Talent Initiative

In January, the university submitted its plan 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 socioeconomic backgrounds.

In the plan, Virginia Tech outlined five efforts to achieve these ambitious goals.

  • Increase the percentage of underserved, low-income students in each first-year cohort to 25 percent by 2023.
  • Increase the percentage of underserved, low-income students in each new transfer cohort to 45 percent by 2023.
  • Increase student success by using inclusive practices in teaching, advising, and mentoring, with support from a $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant.
  • Expand the use of data analytics and technology-enhanced student support to increase recruitment of and support for students.
  • Remove financial barriers to enrollment and retention by increasing the amount of scholarship aid available and the number of low- and moderate-income students who receive it.

The American Talent Initiative is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities across five key areas for creating lasting change —  arts, education, environment, government innovation, and public health. ATI is co-managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R.