Five midstate colleges join national effort to help lower-income students

New "American Talent Initiative" aims to boost enrollment of talented-but not-well-off students

Several midstate colleges have joined a new national effort, now made up of 68 higher-education institutions, to graduate more high-achieving, lower-income students.

Dickinson, Elizabethtown, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg and Lebanon Valley colleges have all joined the “American Talent Initiative” effort, launched in December.

The ATI aims to educate 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the country’s 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025, its officials explain.

ATI is “a collaboration that aligns with our mission to attract high-achieving students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds,” Dickinson Interim President Neil Weissman said in a statement.

Dickinson’s class of 2020 already is the most diverse in the college’s 234-year history, its officials said, including 21 percent domestic students of color, 12 percent international students and 10 percent first-generation college students.

The president of Franklin & Marshall College, Daniel Porterfield, is a member of the ATI steering committee, ATI’s webpage said.

Member college goals include:

• Recruiting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds through robust outreach.

• Ensuring that lower-income students are retained through practices that have been shown to be effective.

• Prioritizing need-based financial aid.

• Minimizing or eliminating gaps in progression and graduation rates between and among students from low-, moderate- and high-income families.

ATI has been funded with an initial $1.7 million, multiyear grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Yale, Harvard and Stanford are among the schools on the ATI list.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at

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