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Duke works to increase low-income students' access to college through new initiative

<p>The initiative will work&nbsp;to enroll and graduate 50,000 additional lower-income, talented students by 2025.</p>

The initiative will work to enroll and graduate 50,000 additional lower-income, talented students by 2025.

Duke has joined a coalition of 30 colleges and universities in a new national initiative to make college more accessible for talented, low-income students. 

The American Talent Initiative—supported by a $1.7 million, multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies—aims to enroll and graduate 50,000 low-income students from 270 different universities that have the highest graduation rates nationwide. Along with peer institutions such as Yale University and Princeton University, Duke is one of the 30 founding schools participating in the project. 

“Duke is pleased to be among the 30 founding members of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Talent Initiative,” said President Richard Brodhead in a Duke Today release. “As part of our commitment to access and opportunity, Duke welcomes talented students regardless of their family’s circumstances and ensures that all students can thrive on our campus.

According to the initiative, every year an estimated 12,500 lower-income high school graduates with outstanding academic credentials do not attend a college with a high graduation rate because of financial barriers or a lack of information about their higher education options.

The 30 founding schools have made a commitment to recruit students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, prioritize need-based financial aid and minimize gaps in graduation rates among students from low, moderate and high-income families. They will also conduct research on their work and share data in order to help other universities improve their practices. In addition, the initiative will recruit other schools with similarly high graduation rates to expand the collaboration.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, noted the efforts Duke has made during the past several years to expand access for lower-income students. For example, Duke has recently launched a scholarship for first-generation students and has partnered with QuestBridge, a nonprofit that helps low-income students get scholarships. 

Duke is also affiliated with several effective national programs that reach out to talented students from less advantaged backgrounds, Schoenfeld added. These include the Knowledge is Power Program and the Say Yes to College program. 

“Together these efforts have created even great socioeconomic diversity at Duke, which is good for the University and for society,” Schoenfeld wrote.