Davidson College is among a core group of 30 public and private colleges to participate in a new national initiative aimed at increasing the number of low-income students in the nation's top schools by 12 percent within under a decade. Currently, 430,000 low-income students as measured by those who receive federal Pell grants attend the top schools, which have six-year graduation rates consistently above 70 percent. Under the American Talent Initiative, that number would rise to 480,000 by 2025.
David Leonhardt of the New York Times writes in an opinion piece titled "Make Colleges Diverse" that the effort will make colleges more open to the working class, and ultimately bridge the class divide that has been a subject of conversation and analysis in recent days. He writes:
"Top colleges are already diverse in some ways, of course. They enroll students of every ethnicity, from around the world. Yet those otherwise diverse student bodies remain distressingly affluent. Worst of all, they remain affluent even though many poor and middle-class students could thrive at top colleges.
"A landmark recent study found that most highly qualified low-income students don't attend one of the country's roughly 250 top colleges. Many instead enroll in local colleges with relatively few resources and high dropout rates."
The News & Observer: UNC, Duke, Davidson Join Pact to Help Low-Income Students