In an effort to increase the number of low-income students admitted to and enrolled at the University, Wesleyan has joined the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of 67 schools from across the country. The ATI Alliance is dedicated to accepting and supporting lower-income students, ensuring they receive opportunities for growth, and helping them study at selective institutions.

“Bringing students of diverse backgrounds to campus enhances the learning experience of all,” said President Michael Roth, as quoted in the University’s newsletter. “We’ve worked for decades to open up Wesleyan to students who might never have imagined themselves here or assumed such a school was out of reach financially. There’s more work to be done, however, and we’re confident that joining together with other institutions to set economic diversity goals and to share research will help us all deepen the connections between social mobility and higher education.”

ATI aims to ensure 50,000 additional high-achieving, low-income students are admitted to and enrolled at top colleges with high graduation rates. Their methods include a national campaign to raise awareness for talent in low-income communities, outreach to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, a prioritization of need-based financial age, and minimization of the graduation rate gap between students in low-, moderate-, and high-income families.

ATI focuses on adding top private universities and liberal arts colleges to the alliance, specifically ensuring that schools have graduation rates of over 70 percent within six years. An overarching goal of the alliance is to add as many of the 270 top schools as possible within the next few years. ATI is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in collaboration with Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and the growing number of colleges involved.

“When the American Talent Initiative was launched in December 2016, we were immediately interested in learning more, and we were delighted to be selected to join in the second round of membership this month,” wrote Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Meislahn and Manager of Media and Public Relations Lauren Rubenstein in a collaborative email. “ATI’s mission of dramatically increasing the number of low- and moderate-income students at top colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates is right in line with Wesleyan’s own commitment to increasing access. We’ve worked for decades with hundreds of different community-based organizations to identify and recruit talented students who likely wouldn’t find Wesleyan on their own. But we can still do more, and felt it would be beneficial to join together with other institutions to share research and set joint goals of increasing access to higher education.”

“In the long run, this initiative will increase socioeconomic diversity here, bringing more talented and deserving students from underrepresented backgrounds to Wesleyan.” Meislahn and Rubenstein added. “Their presence will add to the richness of classroom discussions and campus life.”

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