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With Bloomberg’s Backing, Top Colleges Seek More Low-income Students

Leaders of more than 100 selective colleges and universities met here this week at the offices of billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg to strategize on how to recruit and graduate more students from the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.

The American Talent Initiative, as the group calls itself, is claiming momentum two years after it launched with backing from the former New York mayor and potential presidential candidate. It has 110 members, up from the founding 30, and it counts progress toward a goal of adding 50,000 students of modest means to the rolls of schools nationwide with high graduation rates. The group wants to reach that milestone by 2025.

By the American Talent Initiative’s reckoning, the number of students at participating schools with enough financial need to qualify for federal Pell Grants grew more than 7,200 from 2015 to 2017. That represented a 3 percent rise in total Pell enrollment at the schools and a step toward the 50,000-student growth target. Bloomberg hailed the results as a sign of commitment to widening access at top colleges.