Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches New Initiative with College Possible to Help High-Achieving, Low- And Moderate- Income Students Apply to and Enroll in Top Colleges and Universities
Coalition Seeks to Increase Access to Education for Low- and Moderate-Income Students Through New, Innovative Virtual Advising Program; Will Engage Colleges and Universities to Spur Administrative Changes To Increase Opportunities
NEW YORK – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a new coalition to increase the number of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students who apply to and graduate from selective colleges and universities. This partnership, among the country’s leading college success organizations, will work to address a persistent problem: each year tens of thousands of hardworking students with top grades and standardized test scores fail to apply to our country’s leading institutions. Bloomberg Philanthropies is setting a new national goal to enroll over half of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students—up from approximately one third today—in the 265 colleges and universities which graduate students at the highest rates. This new initiative aims to directly help as many as 65,000 students apply to and enroll in these top schools by removing one of the primary barriers—lack of resources in the college and financial aid application process. The coalition will also engage college and university presidents and leading experts through the Aspen Institute to spur changes in school administration policies to enable more of these students to enroll and graduate.
- See the New York Times story about the Bloomberg Philanthropies coalition
Research shows that despite their qualifications, over 50 percent of our nation’s high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to a single selective college or university. Seventy percent of students at the country’s most competitive colleges come from families with incomes in the top 25 percent. Only 6 percent of low-income students attend colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. Each year the top 265 colleges—including 60 public universities—are not enrolling at least 50,000 high-achieving students from the bottom two economic quartiles who are qualified to attend these schools. Students who attend selective schools have earnings that are about 25% higher than those of students who attend less selective colleges, translating to a difference of $450,000 over the course of a lifetime and increased economic mobility. These students have limited resources for navigating the complex application process. High schools serving predominately low-income and minority students have, on average, 1,000 students for every college counselor.
With the help of College Possible, low-income students are accepted to and graduate from college at the same rates as their wealthier peers. A recent Harvard University evaluation shows that College Possible’s approach is effective and that students served are significantly more likely to enroll in a four year college. The study’s author, Dr. Chris Avery, commented, “Low-income students attend schools that offer them a small probability of graduating. They need to understand that colleges are often very affordable for them because of financial aid. College Possible has helped position these students for future success.”
“As a child who grew up in a family with modest means, I know how difficult it can be to focus on your future when the day-to-day tasks of paying bills, buying food and affording housing are only met with so much struggle,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “I was fortunate enough to find my way out of those circumstances, and on to a successful college career, and aim to create these opportunities for others. Today, we have more insight than ever into the barriers and challenges that high-achieving, lower-income students face when applying to college, and it is up to us to turn that knowledge into actionable change.”
To help deliver college opportunity for tens of thousands of students who have earned it, Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a coalition and initiative of unprecedented national scale on this challenge —an initial investment of $10 million over the next two years and additional funds over the following years based on initial results. Other foundations are joining this effort, starting with the New York-based Heckscher Foundation for Children, which is committing an additional $1 million over the next two years to support the project.
Together, these investments will support:
- A nationwide virtual advising effort deploying a squad of well-trained advisors to support high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students, in a partnership with the College Board, including many of the highest quality college advising organizations in the country—starting with College Advising Corps, College Possible, and Strive for College.
- Mentors will use various forms of virtual interaction and communication, including video conferencing, screen and document sharing, and text and instant messaging, in order to reach students at scale and in rural areas, as well urban centers, across all 50 states. Mentors will provide credible, personalized guidance on which institutions are a good match given students’ level of academic achievement and support and graduate lower-income students at high rates as well as accurate, individualized information about the real costs of top institutions, which are often far less for lower-income students than they believe, and the many scholarships and financial aid opportunities available to them.
- The Aspen Institute to convene a task force of leading college presidents and experts in college leadership, policy, and operations to develop concrete, actionable recommendations for how the 265 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates can enroll and graduate substantially more of these high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students.
- Khan Academy, which is developing free, high-quality online content on the college and financial aid process available to students receiving virtual advising, as well as Khan users more broadly.
- Professor Ben Castleman of the University of Virginia and Professor Eric Bettinger of Stanford University, who will lead significant research on the impact of this intervention, including a randomized controlled trial to measure virtual advising outcomes, and enable Bloomberg Philanthropies to share successful strategies with school systems, counselors, other non-profit organizations, and education leaders across the country.
- America Achieves, a non-profit organization that supports leaders to catalyze large-scale success in education, who will develop and manage the initiative and support collaboration among the coalition partners in order to leverage opportunities to innovate as partners implement key program and evaluation design features and strengthen our approach to this challenge to generate the greatest impact.
“Educating our capable low-and-moderate income students is not only the right thing to do; it is the only way to maintain our country’s strong workforce in a competitive global economy,” said College Possible CEO and Founder Jim McCorkell. “We are thrilled to joining this historic partnership to break down the barriers to higher education.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Meghan Womack, +212-205-0176, firstname.lastname@example.org
College Possible is making college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. College Possible operates in Minnesota, Milwaukee, Omaha, Oregon, Philadelphia and Chicago.