LVC Joins Effort to Expand Opportunities For Talented Low-Income and Moderate-Income Students

Beauty shot of LVC's academic quad

Lebanon Valley College has joined 67 colleges and universities in an alliance to dramatically expand the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at American undergraduate institutions. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the American Talent Initiative (ATI) seeks to educate 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the colleges and universities that have the nation’s highest graduation rates, including Lebanon Valley College.

“Lower-income students do well at LVC because we provide them with the personal support and financial resources to help them succeed academically, and ultimately, professionally,” said Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, president of Lebanon Valley College. “We look forward to contributing to the conversation and enhancing the ways we serve this important segment of the country’s population, which has such great potential.”

Based on the most recent federal data available, there are approximately 430,000 lower-income students enrolled in the 270 public and private institutions that have the highest graduation rates. The initiative will increase and sustain the total number of lower-income students attending these top-performing colleges to about 480,000 by 2025. Lebanon Valley College and other ATI members will share best practices in recruitment, support, and retention, along with institutional data, and will annually publish aggregate progress toward meeting the national goal.

Research shows that when high-achieving, lower-income students attend high-performing institutions, they graduate at higher rates, setting them on a path toward career and personal success. However, each year 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 schools offer, but for a variety of reasons—including a lack of information about their options, confusion about costs, and inadequate financial aid offers—many of them simply lack access.

The American Talent Initiative seeks 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.

Colleges and universities participating in the American Talent Initiative will further the national goal of developing more talent from every American neighborhood by:

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


Member institutions of the American Talent Initiative are committing substantial resources to attract, enroll, and graduate students at their individual campuses. 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, convening of college presidents and staff, and data analysis and reporting. The Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R will study the practices that lead to measurable progress and share that knowledge with field through regular publications. The first of these publications focusing on financial strategies to bolster lower-income student success was published next February on the ATI website. ATI plans to expand its membership in the coming months and years.


American Talent Initiative Participating Institutions (*members joining in January–April 2017)

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.